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Smithsonian Icon ‘Yarnbombed’ with 6 Miles of Red Yarn

Smithsonian Castle Gardens and Gate Covered with Yarn Aug. 29–Sept. 2 to Mark Opening of Sackler Gallery Art Installation


One of the Smithsonian’s most iconic and photographed scenes has been blanketed with bright red yarn, revealed early in the morning of Friday, Aug. 29. In front of the Smithsonian Castle on Independence Avenue, the entrance gates to the Enid A. Haupt Garden and the lightpoles, benches and guide ropes leading to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery have been “yarnbombed,” or swathed under layers and webs of yarn, to promote the Gallery’s new exhibition, “Perspectives: Chiharu Shiota.”

Using more than 6 miles of the same fire-proofed yarn used in the art installation, more than 120 volunteers and knitting enthusiasts from around the Smithsonian and the Washington region assembled the “yarnbomb” under cover of darkness Aug. 28. Weather permitting, it will remain in place until the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 2.

“Perspectives: Chiharu Shiota,” opening Aug. 30, is a room-filling installation created with more than 350 shoes collected by the artist, along with handwritten notes from the donors, all wrapped and linked with web-like strings of red yarn. A Japanese performance artist, Shiota is known for her emotionally charged monumental installations with everyday objects that evoke memory, loss and anxiety. She was recently selected as Japan’s representative at the prestigious 2015 Venice Biennale.

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, along with the adjacent Freer Gallery of Art, comprises the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art. Its “Perspectives” series features provocative and critically acclaimed contemporary Asian artists, including Xu Bing, Anish Kapoor, Do Ho Suh and Ai Weiwei.

For more information about the Freer and Sackler galleries and their exhibitions, programs and other public events, visit or follow or

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