Updated info from March 7, 2017:
The Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibit has been even more popular than anticipated! Memberships to gain easier access to the exhibit have reached capacity. As of 3/4/17 the Hirshhorn is not releasing any additional memberships, although more may be released before the end of the run so check back if you were hoping to get one. So, how to get tickets? Get online exactly at noon on Mondays when tickets are released for the following week.
You can also try your luck with the limited number of same-day timed tickets that are released daily. The line for these forms at 9:30 a.m. and we’ve received reports of people able to get tickets if they are there at 9:30 a.m. or before. However, be aware that same-day tickets are timed so you could receive tickets that admit you anywhere from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. depending on availability if you are lucky enough to snag tickets this way.
How is the wait? We got reports of lines for admission running up to two hours behind on opening weekend. However, the Hirshhorn seems to have smoothed out the process and waits are not nearly as long and you can expect to be admitted close to your designated entrance time. There are bathrooms available on the outdoor plaza as well as a small cafe with drinks and pastries so you can stay full and comfortable during any wait.
Once inside, there is another line to get into the exhibit, but it’s usually pretty fast. Then, once in the exhibit there are more lines to get into the Infinity Rooms, but even when the exhibit was at capacity we never waited more than five minutes. If there are two adults, one could wait in line while the other looks at the paintings, sculptures, and videos in the exhibit or even just wait on a bench.
You may be wondering if all of the waiting is worth it? The answer is a resounding yes. My kids (9, 6, and 2) all loved everything about the exhibit and barely complained about the wait times. I had shown them pictures in advance to get them interested and excited so they knew what the waiting was for right from the beginning!
My kids’ favorites? They genuinely loved it all, but my six year old was enthralled by the room with lanterns, my nine year old loved the white room where everything can be touched, played with, and covered with stickers, and my two year old was partial to the pumpkins.
One word of caution is to be sure to watch your kids carefully while in the Infinity Rooms. In the first week a grown-up taking a selfie broke a sculpture worth $800,000.
If all of this sounds like too much, just wait! The exhibit is showing through May. While it’s too soon to tell, demand may ease up closer to the end of the run.
Original Review from February 22, 2017:
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors is one of the most anticipated art exhibits in recent years – and the good news for families is that it’s great for kids. My family has enjoyed interactive exhibits over the years, so I had high expectations for Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors – and the exhibit exceeded every one.
The exhibit is large and much of it is unlike anything you have ever seen or experienced. There are some gorgeous sculptures and paintings that are well worth viewing, but the real appeal for families are the six Infinity Mirror Rooms, each with a different theme from floating lanterns to polka-dot pumpkins, as well as the other immersive exhibits including a giant pink tent filled with pink polka-dot balls and a large cube visitors can look through to see a variety of changing colored lights.
The final room of the exhibit, a replica apartment complete with a working piano, started out white but will be completely covered in colorful polka-dot stickers placed by visitors by the end. Kids can touch everything in this room and the Hirshhorn provides the stickers so be sure to save some energy until the end!
Want to visit? You won’t be disappointed. However, the Hirshhorn website crashed due to demand for timed tickets when they were released for the first two weeks of the exhibit so you can expect to deal with crowds.
Tips for your visit:
- We recommend getting free timed tickets in advance. Tickets are released every Monday at noon for the following week online. If you cannot get tickets, or just aren’t a planner, a limited number of tickets will be available each day at 10:00 a.m. with line formation beginning on the museum plaza at 9:30 a.m. Fret not, there is another option — Become a member (as of March 2017 these are no longer available). The Hirshhorn is offering a special $50 membership during the Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibit only which will allow you to bypass the general membership line and access a different members-only line as well as receive two tickets to use anytime.
- Be prepared for a wait. To help, the Hirshhorn will host a coffee and pastry bar on the museum’s plaza during the run of the exhibition. Sculptures can also be viewed around the plaza, including one of Kusama’s pumpkins. For kids who may get antsy, one adult can wait in line while another takes kids to the nearby sculpture garden or to run around on the Mall.
- Talk to kids ahead of time about expectations. With the exception of last room where kids can touch everything and place stickers, regular “museum rules” apply to the rest of the exhibit, even though it will be very tempting for kids to try to throw a big pink ball or pick a pumpkin.
- Be prepared for more waiting inside. Most of the installations are meant to be experienced by only a few visitors at a time and are small. The Infinity Mirror rooms are small and only one family (or other small group) will be allowed in a time. This means there will be a wait to enter each Infinity Room. Visitors will be allowed in each Infinity Mirror Room about for 20 to 30 seconds each so the lines should move quickly.
- Prepare kids for time in the Infinity Rooms. It’s a good idea to prepare kids ahead of time for the short time they will spend in each so that they aren’t disappointed when it’s time to leave and to talk about what to expect once inside. Although the rooms are small, because they are mostly covered in mirrors they seem larger. However, should you want to leave a room early all you have to do is knock and someone will open the door right away. Be sure to look all around, even up, when inside!
- If you cannot access the Infinity Mirror Rooms, ask for “Virtual Reality for Radical Accessibility” virtual reality glasses that allow visitors to experience their immersive environment without going inside. There is also a new Art Surrounds mobile guide that gives a lot more information about the exhibit itself. Audio guides are $6.00 each and $10.00 for two and may help enrich the experience for families with older children.
- The exhibition doesn’t have to be viewed in order. The lines for the Infinity Mirror Rooms may not all be equal. If the line for one looks too long, check out another and circle back. Although the exhibits are organized in what the museum describes as a “loose thematic order” I jumped around a bit in my viewing and didn’t feel it detracted from the experience.
- Be on the lookout for other events related to the exhibit including the April 30th Family Day.
- Don’t miss the rest of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden! Although you should expect to spend most of your time in the Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibit, the Hirshhorn is full of other amazing works of art, most of which are accessible to families. Be sure to take a least quick look!
- Don’t miss it! This exhibit is really amazing an unlike anything you have experienced before. Even my two year old was fascinated and there is plenty of everyone to enjoy both in and out of the Infinity Mirror Rooms.
Photos by Jamie Davis Smith.