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Kusama in Seattle, Post Script, And On to LA

When, on a recent day, The Broad museum announced that “due to overwhelming demand” additional tickets for the coming Yayoi Kusama exhibition would be available on Oct. 2, it added this to the statement: “Tickets are expected to go extremely quickly and everyone who wants an opportunity to purchase must be in our waiting room at exactly noon PT.” Tickets are $25 in advance, and $30 for “online standby.” The media advisory went on to say:

During the September 1 ticket release, the initial offering of 50,000 tickets sold out in less than two hours. The Broad has decided to stay open an additional 14 hours each week, for a total of 62 operational hours per week. In addition to these extended hours, the museum is also increasing the number of visitors it will accommodate during operating hours.  This increase in both hours and visitors per hour will allow for nearly 40,000 additional advance tickets to be made available in the upcoming release.

The exhibit opens there on Oct. 21.

Like a rock concert, the Kusama exhibit, which I saw at the Seattle Art Museum, where it closed on Sept. 10, is going gangbusters. But, while the exhibition will play differently in each city on its tour. it’s worth returning to Seattle to find out what happened during its sold-out run there. Rechel Eggers, in SAM’s press office, answered my question with this:

Number of visitors to Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors: Over 130,000 visitors attended the exhibition. This exhibition attracted sellout crowds from opening to closing day.

However, she added, it was not the most attended show at SAM by a long shot “because its unique, immersive experience necessitates a much smaller gallery capacity in order for visitors to interact with the art as Kusama intended.”

At SAM, the most popular show ever remains Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, which ran from October 8, 2010 to January 17, 2011. It attracted more than 400,000 visitors.

If Kusama is not the gate-busting money-maker people are envisioning, that’s not bad at all. It means that despite costs and limitations on visitorship, museums want to show her unique Infinity Rooms. It’s about the art, not the gate. And people are responding. Take a look at this slide show recently published in The Seattle Times. I particularly liked Slides 6 and 9, the near-ending views of her Obliteration Room, and Slide 16, which show seniors arriving to see the show. Museums rarely tout their programs for seniors, at least judging by my inbox and my reading, and it’s good to see someone paying attention.

If you have other questions about the next stop of this tour, at the Broad (and I did), you might find answers in the Broad’s FAQs about the exhibit.

Photo Credit (detail): Courtesy of The Seattle Times

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