Lonely Planet Writer

How to experience the most popular exhibition in Washington DC for free and without the crowds

Attending a buzzy new exhibition usually means battling crowds while craning to see the artwork, but not so at one Washington DC museum this winter. The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is hosting Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, and only a few visitors at a time will be granted entrance.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors Image by Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The retrospective will showcase six of the Japanese artist’s famed Infinity Mirror Rooms — the most ever shown together — as well as a series of her paintings and other essential works. Each Infinity Mirror Room features repetitive elements like multi-media installations, polka dots, or pumpkins, while mirrored walls and lights offer an illusion of infinite space.

“Yayoi Kusama is one of the most popular artists in the world, and her remarkable Infinity Mirror Rooms are designed to be intimate and immersive,” Hirshhorn deputy director Elizabeth Duggal said in a statement. To accommodate the show’s anticipated popularity while still allowing visitors an unhurried experience, the Hirshhorn will offer visitors free timed passes for the first time in the museum’s history. The show runs from 23 February to 14 May, 2017, and beginning on Monday, 13 February at 11 am, visitors can reserve a pass online. Each Monday at noon more passes will be released for the following week.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors Image by Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Infinity Rooms

Alternatively, until 1 February, visitors can win VIP tickets for the opening weekend by visiting the museum’s sculpture garden and taking a photo of Kusama’s Pumpkin sculpture, then posting it to Instagram using the hashtag #InfiniteKusama. “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors promises to be the essential art experience of 2017,” Allison Peck, the Hirshhorn’s Interim Director of Communications and Marketing tells Lonely Planet. “By exploring six of her breathtaking Infinity Mirror Rooms, created over the full span of her long career, visitors can discover the genius that makes Kusama one of the most popular artists in the world.”

A photo posted by David Zwirner (@davidzwirner) on Aug 31, 2016 at 2:16pm PDT

After Infinity Mirrors closes in DC, the show will exhibit in other North American venues, including Seattle Art Museum, The Broad in Los Angeles, Art Gallery of Ontario, and Cleveland Museum of Art.

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