Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum is slowly destroying the lives of all DC residents. The exhibit is a retrospective that features six of the Japanese artist’s enchanting Infinity Mirror Rooms. Mind you, each group of two or three patrons is allowed between 20 and 30 seconds in each dazzling room. Not only has the exhibit closed an entire floor of a decidedly small Smithsonian museum, it has attracted a traveling circus of out of towners and wealthy selfie grabbers.
The Hirshhorn is a lesser-known Smithsonian museum that is a local haunt for modern art lovers. The museum takes on the shape of a perfectly cylindrical washer so it is already missing a center chunk of wall space but the museum is beloved by the loyal few.
During the Infinity Mirror’s first week, 14,000 visitors poured into the second floor of the Hirshhorn. According to Newsdesk, the Newsroom of the Smithson, the opening week brought “32,500 visitors to the museum and sculpture garden, its highest attendance for those dates in almost 40 years.”
Mirror fanatics can begin queuing as early as 7 AM for day-of tickets and the timed passes are usually sold out by 10 AM. However, the queuing does not end there. Waits for each infinity room can be up to one hour, so attending Kusama’s exhibit is a marathon that requires taking a full day off of work. DC professionals must sacrifice an eight-hour payday for an art experience that is guaranteed to be less than 5 minutes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Is it fair? Absolutely not.
In an attempt to accommodate visitors,
the museum has extended its hours to 7:30 PM. This means while some locals are forced to give up a day of work, others are gaining two extra hours every day.
It is possible to obtain advanced time passes and these golden tickets are released on the Hirshhorn website Mondays at noon. The Newsdesk reported that 58,000 users requested passes within the first minute of the second exhibiting week, that is roughly 10% of DC’s population, who are surely are not all art enthusiasts.
The only other way to avoid this agonizing ticket procurement process is to be a Hirshhorn member. Who knew this even existed? Members are guaranteed day-of tickets and with the new $50 Kusma Circle Memberships, guests of members can access the “members” line anytime during the exhibition.
A free Smithsonian museum has now seen an additional $237,000 in revenues since the opening of Infinity Mirrors. Devotees of the museum, who marvel at the art on a monthly basis, are now forced to pay, one way or another, for a limited edition experience that has everyone jumping on the Hirshhorn bandwagon. There is a lot of grumbling in the very small DC modern art world and we don’t blame them.