Top Collector Estrellita B. Brodsky Elected as Chair of Hirshhorn Museum’s Board - Living Strong Television Network
Top Collector Estrellita B. Brodsky Elected as Chair of Hirshhorn Museum’s Board

The board of trustees of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. have elected Estrellita B. Brodsky to serve as the institution’s next chair. She succeeds Dan Sallick, who has chaired the board for the last eight years; he will become a trustee emeritus.

In an email to ARTnews, Brodsky said as the next board chair she hopes to build on the work of Sallick, whose tenure included the launch of a $60 million renovation project for its sculpture garden and support for the museum’s digital initiatives, like its video series Hirshhorn Eye.

“As the nation’s museum of modern and contemporary art, the Hirshhorn plays a fundamental role in connecting audiences to contemporary art and contextualizing the important role artists play in our society and shared history,” she said.

Brodsky, who joined the Hirshhorn board in 2022, has been named to ARTnews’s Top 200 Collectors list each year since 2017, alongside her husband Daniel, who served as chairman of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 2011 to 2021. As collectors, the couple focus on international postwar and contemporary art, with a strong emphasis on Latin American and Latinx art. The collection numbers over 1,000 works and includes artists like Carmen Herrera, Joaquín Torres-García, Lygia Pape, Beatriz González, and Guillermo Kuitca.  

As a philanthropist, Brodsky has endowed several curatorial positions focused on Latin American art, including at Tate Modern, held by Tobias Ostrander; the Museum of Modern Art in New York, held by Beverly Adams; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, held be Iria Candela. At the latter two institutions she has also been a founding member of their Latin American art–focused acquisition funds. Brodksy is currently a trustee of the Tate Americas Foundation and a past board co-chair of El Museo del Barrio.

In addition to being a leading collector and philanthropist, Brodsky holds a Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, and she has curated exhibitions on some of Latin American’s most important postwar artists, including Jesús Rafael Soto, Carlos Cruz-Diez, and Julio Le Parc. Through the Daniel and Estrellita B. Brodsky Family Foundation, she also established an appointment only nonprofit exhibition space, Another Space, in Chelsea, which currently has on view an exhibition dedicated to textile arts spanning from the pre-Columbian era to today.

Melissa Chiu, the Hirshhorn’s director, told ARTnews that she and Brodsky have discussed over the past two years the importance of the Hirshhorn’s collection and its position as a national museum that is free to the public.

“Estrellita Brodsky is a scholar with a decades-long commitment to public art education,” Chiu said by email. “I am particularly excited to partner with Estrellita and the board to expand access to the Hirshhorn: our collection, education and public programs, whether our audience is in-person or virtual. … It’s an exciting time to have a board and staff focused on our impact as a national museum.”

The Hirshhorn is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and the museum added more than 80 works to its collection last year to mark the occasion, including pieces by Dawoud Bey, Dindga McCannon, Pacita Abad, Wangechi Mutu, Sayre Gomez, and Dyani White Hawk.

“Estrellita is as interested in, for example, works by Joaquín Torres-Garcia, which entered the collection as Joseph Hirshhorn’s foundational gift, as she is recent acquisitions that speak to our deep holdings, like Abraham Cruzvillegas’ Self-portrait nude descending a staircase at the Raval (2012), part of his “autoconstrucción” series—pieces that will be on view, part of our upcoming 50th anniversary survey,” Chiu said.

Looking to the future, Brodsky said as the next chair she plans to work with the Hirshhorn’s staff “to understand how best to support their vision” and that she will also “work to advocate for diversity as well as encourage initiatives that increase the representation of artists from Latin America and its diaspora.”

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