Let me start off by saying that we have never wanted to go to a museum this badly before – never! Hirshhorn Museum did a very good job in promoting the Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibit. Their promotion focused on social media, which is the reason why we knew about the exhibit from all the pictures shared via Instagram. Soon you will see what all the hype is about and want to visit the exhibit yourself!
The Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibit takes place in the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum. To be honest, we knew nothing about Kusama, it was the pictures that drew us to her art. Now we have learned and will pass our knowledge to you. This exhibit is claimed to be one of this years essential art experiences – after our experience we can 100% agree! The Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum has the great honor of debuting the Infinity Mirrors’ North American tour from February 23rd to May 14th. The Infinity Mirrors North American Tour takes place over the course of two years – that is outstanding! Following Hirshhorn the exhibit will also take place in:
- The Seattle Art Museum, June 30 – September 10, 2017
- The Broad, Los Angeles, October 21 2017 – January 10, 2018
- Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, March 3 – May 27, 2018
- Cleveland Museum of Art, July 9 – September 30, 2018
- The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, November 18, 2018 – February 17, 2019
Infinity Mirrors is a collection and celebration of Kusama’s entire 65 year career with the infinity mirrors being the primary focus. Yayoi Kusama is a world renown Japanese artist and writer. She is known for her work with polka dots, soft sculptures and of course her famed “infinity rooms,” where she uses mirrors and electric lights to produce her art of the infinite possibilities. It is said that Kusama’s fame began with her pop art movement and a series of events of painting bright colored polka dots on naked participants. Though the infinity rooms are the popular attraction, these other art pieces are also featured along the walls for guests to read and view.
This is the second time Adam and I have had to reserve free timed passes to enter a Smithsonian Museum. At least we know we are going to the really good museums! The Hirshhorn Museum does not typically need timed passes, but because of the layout of this exhibit, it is required. So, how do you reserve these free timed passes? Every Monday at noon, tickets are available to reserve for the week after. For example, on a Monday afternoon, Adam was reserving tickets for the NEXT Wednesday. Unfortunately, he was out of luck as the reservation system sold out immediately. He clicked reserve the second it hit 12 and the tickets were already gone! So, where did that leave us? Standing in the walk-up line at 9:30am to obtain tickets. If you are unable to reserve tickets online (like us) then you may try and obtain the limited number of free same-day walk-up timed passes. The line starts forming at 9:30am and they are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 10am.
As stated, we arrived in the walk-up line around 9:30am and we estimated about 100 people in front of us. By the time we were about 20 people from receiving tickets the staff started telling guests that if you were at the end of the line you would not be receiving tickets for that day. We were on pins and needles of whether or not we would be receiving tickets because in the warm trailer (where you wait for tickets), there is a tv that shows what time slots are available. With 10 people ahead of us the only time slot available was 2:30pm. The tv updates every 5 minutes of the available time slots and let me tell you that there were about 6 slots available at one point and then in one refresh there was only one slot left, the 2:30pm, which is why we were nervous we would not make the cut. With all this being said, our best advice to you is if you want tickets make sure you are waiting in line at 9:30 if not earlier. (This all happened on a WEDNESDAY morning).
This exhibit is like no other museum you have ever experienced. The best way to describe this exhibit is that it is more of an amusement park than a museum (possibly why we enjoyed it so much). Every room has an infinity room and with every infinity room comes a long line. Guests wait in line (anywhere between 5 – 20 minutes) to be entered into the private small infinity room which they experience for 20-30 seconds (depending on the room).
Once you exit the room, it is onto the next queue line for the next infinity room experience. So, as you can see the “amusement ride” is essentially the “infinity room”. It may not get your adrenaline racing, but the experience could possibly leave you breathless.
Lastly, the staff were very professional. organized and friendly. While standing in the line queues the staff would approach us and ask if we had any questions about the art, exhibit or process. Their presence and sincerity was very refreshing and made the exhibit experience more enjoyable.
The Infinity Rooms
From start to finish it took us two hours to complete the exhibit. That includes our waiting queue, the experience, and enjoying the exhibit in its entirety. There are a total of seven amazing infinity rooms in this exhibit, two of the “rooms” guests view through a peephole. There are signs on the wall near every infinity room that provides information of Kusama’s infinity room. Before each infinity room queue line there is also a small sign that reads, “Enter here” and includes the name of the infinity room as well as an URL that also provides the same information found on the wall.
If you plan on visiting the museum yourself and want to be surprised please close this page and revisit it when you return from experiencing this exhibit yourself.
The first infinity room to enter (if you go in order, you do not have to). Phalli’s Field is comprised of stuffed cotton “phalli”covered in polka dots. Kusama created this infinity room first and it is her most important breakthrough in her career.
This is one of the two rooms where guests experience the infinity room looking through a peephole. The room is hexagonal in shape and mirrored on all sides including the top and bottom. It has two peepholes for guests to look through simultaneously. What you see are electrical light illusions full of color. This was one of our favorite “rooms”.
The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away
This was the room I was most excited about and that sparked my interest to visit. The infinity room is produced with hundreds of LED lights that are hung throughout the room to create an illusion of the galaxy. It seriously feels like you have been transported to outer space (without the hassle of fighting gravity).
Love Transformed into Dots
This included both an infinity room to enter and one that had a peephole. The infinity mirror room was a massive pink balloon with black polka dots. Inside the infinity mirror balloon were pink inflated balloons with black polka dots hung from the ceiling. Guests were able to walk around this room, whereas inside the other infinity rooms guests could only stand on the small platform provided. Therefore, this infinity room felt the most engaging and held a lot of freedom.
The peephole was extremely cool as the picture depicts. The mirrors were on all sides and showcased the illusion infinite pink “balloons”.
Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity
This infinity room is the most moving of them all because of what it represents. This room has golden lanterns hanging from the ceiling, which flicker in the dark mirrored room. Kusama created this room to represent the Japanese tradition of toro nagashi, the famous ceremony where paper lanterns float down a river to guide ancestral spirits back to their resting places. If the toro nagashi festival looks anything like the inside of this infinity room, it is definitely something we would like to experience firsthand.
All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins
Kusama obtained her love for pumpkins at a very young age and her love of pumpkins has influenced her career as shown in this infinity room. Touching on Kusama’s heritage, the pumpkins are modeled after the Japanese kabocha squash. The infinity room is composed of the “endless” glowing pumpkins covered with Kusama’s signature polka dots.
The Obliteration Room
Our favorite room of the entire exhibit because there was no queue line, just kidding it was our favorite because of its engagement, beauty and creativity. The Obliteration Room was a room with furniture (donated from IKEA) covered in all white. Essentially this white room was our blank canvas to obliterate with color.
Every guest is given a sheet of six polka dots of different colors and sizes. We are able to place our polka dots anywhere in the room and on anything. The colored polka dots will never be removed so we are very curious what the room will look like at the end of the exhibit in May. We experienced the room after being open for only one week and it is already looking full, but we can only imagine how full it will truly be on the last day.
Guests are welcome to actually sit, play and touch the objects and furniture. A security guard actually started playing the piano! I even sat down on the office chair and started writing this blog right away (just kidding…the computer was not plugged in). This exhibit was first created for children. I think everyone who participates in this room can agree that we all felt like children at heart. It is so much fun and brings smiles to everyone’s faces, no matter if they are young or old.
Lastly, enjoy this room and do not exit unless you are completely finished with the exhibit. As stated earlier, there is no specific order you must visit the infinity rooms, but once you exit the Obliteration Room you may not reenter the exhibit or revisit any of the infinity rooms.
Other Works of Art
Thank you for joining us on our Kusama polka dot obsession at the Hirshhorn Museum!
To read about another great experience at a museum check out our post, National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden – Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors Exhibit
Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC 20024
On view February 23–May 14, 2017
Daily: 10am – 5:30pm