The secretary of the Smithsonian Institution called the incident “deeply disturbing.”
Evan Vucci / ASSOCIATED PRESS
A noose was found hanging from a tree outside the Hirshhorn museum on Friday evening in Washington, DC, Smithsonian Institution staff said.
Linda St. Thomas, chief spokeswoman for the Smithsonian Institute, told BuzzFeed News that a security officer found the noose hanging from a tree on museum grounds around 6:30 p.m. ET, about an hour after it closed to the public.
The secretary of the Smithsonian, David Skorton, on Saturday sent staff an email, which began by describing the incident as “deeply disturbing news.”
Skorton said US Park Police were contacted and “a criminal investigation is underway.”
“The Smithsonian is committed to be a welcoming, inclusive, and safe place for all,” Skorton wrote in his email. “I know you join me in deploring this act.”
Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
One of the Smithsonian's 19 museums, the Hirshhorn focuses on contemporary art and sculpture.
St. Thomas said no such incident had ever taken place before on Smithsonian property.
“We've never seen a noose hanging from a tree on our property before,” she said.
When asked if the museum had hosted any recent exhibitions that might prompt an extremist to take such action, St. Thomas responded, “There isn't an exhibition about a racial anything. It's just a contemporary art museum.”
Park police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
David Mack contributed to this report.