Hirshhorn Museum Opens Warhol Exhibit With Factory-Style Party

By D. Channing Muller September 28, 2011, 2:01 PM EDT

Photo: Freed Photography

Hirshhorn Museum's "Andy Warhol: Shadows" Exhibit Opening
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The Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden celebrated the opening of its new exhibit “Andy Warhol: Shadows” on Thursday for nearly 600 people. Harking back to the 1970s, organizers brought in corrugated metal walls, silver accents, and bright furniture and lighting to create an atmosphere similar to Warhol’s own Factory parties.

“Since we have the opportunity to have these incredible paintings—102 of them—seen together for the first time, we wanted to capitalize on that and all that goes along with Warhol’s life and how he held his own parties,” said Hilary Freestone, development specialist of exhibition and programs, who worked with the museum’s special event coordinator, Caroline Elliot, to design and execute the opening.

The night began with private dinner for 60 of the museum’s trustees and largest donors in the third-floor Lerner Room overlooking the Mall. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom draped black linens on the circular tables, which had a different color place setting at each table. Following the dinner prepared by Ridgewells Catering, the decor company converted the space into a V.I.P. lounge for the rest of the evening with curves sofas and a new lighting scheme.

The main reception took place outside on the museum plaza, where Chicka Chicka Boom Boom created three lounge areas using Warhol's favorite colors—aubergine, chartreuse, carmine red, yellow, midnight blue, and white—for sofas and pillows. Ridgewells also set up four food stations with small bites like sliders, kebabs, fried mac-and-cheese bites, and hummus and veggie cups, as well as a dessert station of black and white chocolate treats.

DJ Matt Bailer played an update mix of 1970s-inspired songs throughout the night, while guests mingled outside and wandered through the Warhol exhibit on the second floor of the circular museum.

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