Cellular senescence is a stable proliferation arrest that suppresses tumorigenesis. Cellular senescence and associated tumor suppression depend on control of chromatin. Histone chaperone HIRA deposits variant histone H3.3 and histone H4 into chromatin in a DNA replication-independent manner. Appropriately for a DNA replication-independent chaperone, HIRA is involved in control of chromatin in nonproliferating senescent cells, although its role is poorly defined. Here, we show that nonproliferating senescent cells express and incorporate histone H3.3 and other canonical core histones into a dynamic chromatin landscape. Expression of canonical histones is linked to alternative mRNA splicing to eliminate signals that confer mRNA instability in nonproliferating cells. Deposition of newly synthesized histones H3.3 and H4 into chromatin of senescent cells depends on HIRA. HIRA and newly deposited H3.3 colocalize at promoters of expressed genes, partially redistributing between proliferating and senescent cells to parallel changes in expression. In senescent cells, but not proliferating cells, promoters of active genes are exceptionally enriched in H4K16ac, and HIRA is required for retention of H4K16ac. HIRA is also required for retention of H4K16ac in vivo and suppression of oncogene-induced neoplasia. These results show that HIRA controls a specialized, dynamic H4K16ac-decorated chromatin landscape in senescent cells and enforces tumor suppression.