Elyn Zimmerman’s Marabar Sculpture at National Geographic Earns Possible Reprieve from HPRB


At its May 28 meeting, the DC Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) voted to reopen its review of the National Geographic Society’s planned new entry plaza at its headquarters in Washington, DC. The Board had previously granted concept approval for the project, which includes the removal of a site-specific sculpture, MARABAR, by artist Elyn Zimmerman. The planned removal of the sculpture, which was installed in 1984, received nationwide press, and the Cultural Landscape Foundation and others urged the HPRB to reopen its review of the project. HPRB received dozens of letters urging the Board to reconsider its approval, including one from NYU professor Joseph Low, who stated, “Marabar is one of the most important sculptural installations of the twentieth century.”

In its decision, the HPRB stated that “it did not have sufficient information on the sculpture when it approved redevelopment plans that would result in its removal.” Further, the Board suggested reconsideration in light of the many letters of support the MARABAR had garnered, and urged National Geographic “to consider whether the sculpture could remain in place or be incorporated into its proposed project.”

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