The Hirshhorn Museum Appoints Colombian Pop Star J Balvin as Its First Cultural Ambassador In a Bid to Boost Youth Engagement

The Grammy Award-winner will help reinvigorate the museum's digital and social media presence.

J Balvin in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden, May 20, 2022. Photo by Tony Powell. Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
J Balvin in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden, May 20, 2022. Photo by Tony Powell. Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

J Balvin is no stranger to collaboration. In music, the reggaeton singer has created with Beyoncé and Skrillex. In fashion, he’s been tapped by Guess and Jordan. In business, he worked with leading Latin American psychologists to launch a bilingual wellness app. Now, the Colombian pop star has become the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s first cultural ambassador.

In a move designed to boost youth engagement, Balvin will work with the museum to reinvigorate its social media presence. It’s a push that aims to reach new and diverse audiences on a global basis.

“Balvin will engage in our award-winning educational programs on and beyond our campus in Washington D.C.,” said Melissa Chiu, Hirshhorn director, in a statement. “Our collaboration, the first of its kind, stands to energize global audiences by connecting them with the most exciting artists of our time.”

Specifically, the Latin Grammy Award-winner will be tasked working on English and Spanish language original short videos for Hirshhorn Eye, the museum’s smartphone guide, and taking part in ArtLab, its maker-space for creatives aged 13 to 19. More generally, Balvin will work to advance the Hirshhorn’s public art education programs.

“It’s an honor to be associated with a museum that is centered in contemporary art, has a strong national and global reach, and believes art is for everyone,” Balvin said in a statement. “I am proud to support the Hirshhorn’s mission to connect a global audience with the museum’s innovative art education programs, especially for young adults.”

Hirshhorn Museum And Sculpture Garden Smithsonian Institution. Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images.

The relationship between the Hirshhorn and Balvin has been developing for a couple of years. In 2021, he was among the many prominent figures to contribute to the virtual version of Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree, which the artist gifted to the museum in 2007. In May, he presented the 2022 Hirshhorn Artist Award to the popular American artist KAWS.

Located on the National Mall, the Hirshhorn is a Smithsonian institution dedicated to presenting the work of leading contemporary artists. In October, the museum announced its first interior upgrading in 50 years—what Chiu termed a “revitalization of our museum campus” to address aging infrastructure and expand its exhibition space.

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