MARABAR Letters of Support

The site-specific installation MARABAR by noted New York-based artist Elyn Zimmerman and located on the campus of National Geographic in Washington, D.C. is threatened with demolition.  National Geographic plans to renovate the plaza that contains the artwork. The plaza was created as part of a building addition in 1981 by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.  Zimmerman was commissioned to create an installation that would be in harmony with the building addition. While the proposed renovation has received some local level approvals, The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) does not believe that National Geographic made reviewing agencies adequately aware of the impact on and import of MARABAR. On April 1, 2020, TCLF wrote the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB), which approved the renovation plan last year. TCLF highlighted the lack of visibility of MARABAR in the planning documents presented for review and asked the Board to reopen the case and reconsider its decision.  There is precedent for such a move. As part of this campaign, notable people within the art and design community have written to the HPRB. A sample of their letters appears below. On May 28, 2020, the HPRB decided to reopen the case. HPRB Chair Marnique Heath affirmed TCLF’s position, noting that the “issue of the sculpture was not raised” by NGS. Board member Outerbridge Horsey concurred that MARABAR “should have been brought to our attention” by NGS. Citing majority opinion to reconsider the case, Ms. Heath said that NGS should “strongly consider whether the sculpture can remain.”