The couple giving away one of the largest private collections of Marcel Duchamp

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Over the last three decades, Aaron and Barbara Levine have amassed an impressive melange of conceptual and minimalist art. But, they jokingly say, they loathe calling it a "collection."

"When you get the word 'collection,' it seems limited, like 'I only collect minimalism' or 'I cannot look at anything beyond the parameters of my focus,'" said Barbara, who served on the board of Washington, D.C's Hirshhorn Museum for over a decade. "And we don't -- we are all over the place."

The Levines both advocate experiencing modern and contemporary art in an intimate environment, and their Washington, D.C. home -- as well as retired trial lawyer Aaron's office -- is chock full of artworks by the likes of Donald Judd, Joseph Beuys, Bruce Nauman and Juan Munoz.

"We have four stories and there is not a blank wall, and then Aaron will come home and say, 'I just bought a 90-inch painting' and I will say 'you what?'" Barbara said, feigning horror. "Then I am stuck trying to find where to put this, and how we are going to relate it (to other works)."

But come November, a lack of wall space may be less of a problem -- the Levines have donated their entire Marcel Duchamp collection, one of the largest private collections in the world, to the Hirshhorn Museum.

The donation, which includes 35 seminal works, 15 related portraits and photographs by the likes of Diane Arbus and Man Ray, as well as over 100 books and catalogs on Duchamp, will make up the exhibition "Marcel Duchamp: The Barbara and Aaron Levine Collection," which opens Nov. 9 at the Hirshhorn.

The couple came to collecting relatively late in life. In the early 1990s, the Levines, who have been married for 61 years and have three children, became consumed by art as they traveled back and forth to the Netherlands for Aaron's job. They started visiting art museums across Europe, which "opened up a Pandora's box," Barbara explained.

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