What’s red and white with polka dots all over? Why, it’s the first mirrored room installation of the Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Mirrors exhibition that opened today at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC. A retrospective of the Japanese artist’s sixty-five-year career, the exhibit includes six infinity mirror rooms, paintings and sculptures, and an obliteration room that lets visitors apply dots to fill the space. Obviously there is much here to excite younger artists, but how kid-friendly is the exhibit?
I toured it on my own first and was glad to have the chance to experience it myself before going back with the kids. Even with timed admission tickets there is a lot of waiting in line.* Unless your kids possess infinite patience, waiting 20-30 minutes to spend 30 seconds in each room may prove trying. If possible I would definitely recommend having two adults so one can roam back and forth with the kids while the other holds the spot in line. I spotted two benches between the rooms where kids could sit and rest. I may try using the audio guides when I go back with the kids too as those headsets tend to hold their attention far longer than just reading the sign plates in the exhibit.
(*Not going with kids? To speed the lines, attendants were sending people into rooms in groups of two to four, and the 30 seconds you’re allotted in each room doesn’t allow much time to jostle for photos. So, take a friend or three if you aren’t crazy about selfies with strangers, or take advantage of the chance to move ahead of the line as a solo visitor.)
With those cautions in mind, here’s a peak at what you’ll see.
Words and pictures can hardly do it justice though, especially the infinity rooms, so I highly encourage you to make plans to see it in person before May 14! From DC the exhibit travels to Seattle, LA, Toronto, Cleveland and Atlanta.
How to See It: Timed tickets are being released on the Hirshhorn website each Monday at noon for the following week. A limited number of walk-up tickets are also available each day at 9:30am. (Check their Twitter account to see if the passes are sold out.) If you go the walk-in route, there’s a Dolcezza pop-up in the courtyard serving coffee and gelato pops and of course you can roam the sculpture garden or ride the Smithsonian carousel just across the street while you wait. With timed tickets, you can get in line 30 minutes before your ticket time, although they were running about an hour behind on opening weekend. Allow plenty of time: we waited 80 minutes to get in and spent another nearly 2 hours to go through the exhibit on Sunday afternoon. (With kids, take advantage of the portable bathrooms in the courtyard before your group is called to enter the building so you don’t have to get out of line later.)
After the Visit: We always visit art museums with a sketchbook and colored pencils and I encourage the kids to sketch their favorite piece before we leave. At home, they may add to or complete the sketch or do an art project it inspired. This time, I’m thinking the repetitive tiny circle painting method Kusama used to create her net paintings would be a great way to test/build my kids’ focus …. but at 6 and 10 they tend to have their own ideas. We also try to create a menu tie-in, so I’ve pulled together a few polka dot-themed recipes we can cook together:
- Grilled Portobello Pizzas — using olives &/or pepperoni to add dots (or use English muffins);
- Toad in the Hole — using two different sized circle cutters to cut the bread in a larger circle around the egg circle;
- Bake a cake and decorate with fondant circles — my daughter loves watching cake decorating videos on YouTube and is always asking to use fondant; this may be a fun weekend project to carry on the polka dot love!
If you take the kids to Kusama, let us know what they think!