Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn Museum

If you live anywhere near D.C. and haven't heard about the new Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum, I'm not sure what you've been doing. Hopefully not trying to make sense of the insane, daily political saga that is Washington right now. Or, if that is what you have been doing, then I highly suggest getting to Infinity Mirrors to immerse yourself in another world.

As expected, the exhibit is getting a lot of press and attention. Some people have been raving about it. Some have been critical of the art itself. And others have criticized visitors' interactions with the art—namely the focus exhibit-goers have been making of capturing selfies within the installations. I have no real background or education in art. But my approach has always been that I like what I like and am not bothered if other people don't.

Personally, I think the Infinity Mirrors exhibit is amazing. Yes, the lines to get in are frustrating and the fact that you only get 30-45 seconds in a room is annoying. But, it is what it is. So, I say take it at that and enjoy it how you want. If you want to spend those 45 seconds in an exhibit-matching polka dot outfit posing for a selfie, that's what you want to do. If you want to hold your kiddos' hands and sit silently while they gaze in awe at an infinite sparkling reflection of themselves, have at it. Or if it's not the kind of art you like, that's fine too.

Mr. Not-So-SAHM and I went on preview night and the lines were insane. Up to two hours for some rooms, so we only made it to a few. I took the kids back last week and it was much better. The lines were only about 20 minutes for each room. But kids are kids and they were still cranky about that. Kane and Cam spent a lot of the waiting time bickering, but the moment we walked into an installation, they stopped cold.

I don't want to preview it too much for people and ruin anyone's experience. But I loved the juxtaposition of the very industrial looking pods with the other-worldly feeling I found inside each installation. I also loved that so much of the art was the visitor's interaction with it. That encouraged interaction along with the incredibly sensory experience of it makes it an awesome exhibit for the kids.

I also found that it prompted a lot of great conversation about Kusama's central themes of life and its aftermath. The kids each found their own connections with the exhibit. Kane has been reading a book at school about a little girl injured by the bomb in Nagasaki. So he felt particularly connected to one room's imagery of a Japanese ceremony commemorating the victim of atomic bombs. Cameron had a lot of feelings about life after death and loved the room that feels like another galaxy. Even though we only had a small snippet of time in each room, we all felt able to reflect on and appreciate the art. And I did take some photos, but I tried not to make it the focus of this visit, so they're not great.

If you haven't been yet and are interested in taking your family, I have a few tips:

- give some thought to how your kids do waiting in line for things. If your kids are young, bring something to keep them busy while they wait. Also think about having one person stand in line for a room while you can walk around with the littles looking at other parts of the exhibit. People seemed to be accommodating and understanding of others who couldn't wait in a line and had someone holding their spot.

- don't try to do everything. Since I knew we could make multiple visits, I didn't push our kids to wait for every room--we'll have to go back to see the others. But even if you can only visit once, I suggest skipping the first room (which always has the longest wait) and going on to the second or third installation. You can loop back to see if the lines at the beginning are shorter, but do it before you enter the last room with the stickers!

- enjoy it however you want!

If you are a member, you have access to the exhibit at any time. Each level of membership gives you a different number of tickets, but know that kids under 18 do not count toward that total. If you are not a member, the museum offers free timed passes every Monday at 12 p.m. for the following week. These go FAST, but there are a limited number of walk up tickets available every day and people do seem to be having luck scoring those. Weekends are obviously busier, so if you can go during a weekday, do it!


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