Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu described the new exhibition as an opportunity to celebrate the 2017 show and to remind audiences that Kusama’s work has a permanent place in the city.
“The thinking is that Kusama is still fondly remembered in Washington,” Chiu said. “I think people will appreciate getting the chance to come back.”
The Hirshhorn attracted record crowds in 2017 for “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors,” a five-stop, multiyear tour that ended last February in Atlanta. Featuring six mirror rooms — works Chiu describes as a blend of sculpture, installation and performance art — the exhibition drew 160,000 visitors to the Hirshhorn during its 11-week run, and almost twice that number showed up but couldn’t get into the timed-entry show. It was the highest spring visitation since the museum opened in 1974.
“It really did encourage a reappraisal of the infinity mirror rooms. They were seen as a sideline to her painting practice. It insisted on [their] importance,” Chiu said. “It elevated the Hirshhorn’s reputation nationally.”
This year’s smaller exhibition will showcase the museum’s recent acquisitions, including a polka-dot pumpkin sculpture and “Infinity Mirror Room — Phalli’s Field,” Kusama’s first installation from 1965, which was lent to the museum for the 2017 exhibition. Another, more recent kaleidoscopic room will be on view, too.
Although “One With Eternity” will have a longer run than the previous exhibition, visitors will still be required to obtain free timed passes for admission. The museum will not release advance passes — as it did in 2017 — but instead will distribute same-day passes in person starting at 9 a.m. daily.
“We learned a lot of lessons from the last exhibition,” Chiu said. “We think more people are likely to redeem the ticket on the day.”
The museum will use the exhibition to boost its membership ranks, as it did in 2017. Hirshhorn Insider memberships, which cost $100 to $2,500, will include a code to access reserved passes for the preview week. In 2017, the museum had 9,634 members, thanks to a one-time special $50 Kusama Circle membership that allowed purchasers to avoid the exhibition’s long lines. Currently, the museum has about 300 members.