An exhibition of five decades’ worth of Yayoi Kusama‘s immersive, kaleidoscopic work opened this past weekend at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Eight thousand people have seen it since then, and timed passes are hard to get. According to the museum, all advance passes have been claimed through March 13. Following glowing reviews after its opening last week, tickets vanished in less than a minute Monday as soon as the online pass portal opened.
Enter Craigslist, where this guy is selling tickets for $25 each or $80 for four. “We’re working with Craigslist directly to take down posts selling free passes,” says Hirshhorn spokesperson Allison Peck. “Our goal is to offer as many free timed passes as possible, keeping in mind the capacity of the exhibition. We’re also planning on implementing late night hours to be able to offer more free chances for the public to visit.”
On Saturday afternoon a visitor accidentally damaged one of the famous dotted pumpkins in the “All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins” room, forcing it to temporarily close. (Museum representatives declined to give details or an exact reopening date.) Some visitors complained queues to the mirror rooms obstructed the view of other Kusama art that didn’t require standing in line. Still, these bumps don’t seem to have dampened demand: Craigslist is full of people desperate to buy or swap passes.
This is not the first time free tickets to a Smithsonian exhibit have appeared on the open market. When the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened last year, Craigslist posters were charging up to $200 for free passes.
So what’s an ethical art-lover to do? The passes say they can’t be sold, but the barcode on them isn’t matched to your ID (and people who can’t use them are encouraged to “pay them forward” by passing them on.
The next opportunity to snag passes online is next Monday at noon–but you’d better be quick, and if you get in, be prepared for long lines and short (as in 30-second) visits in the mirror rooms.
You may have more chance just walking up: “We recommend Tuesdays and Wednesdays as the best days to visit for those who can be flexible, with the best chances to get walk-up same-day passes,” Peck says.
Or you could hold off until the mania wanes and plan to visit the exhibit right before it closes on May 14. That may seem like a long wait, but if you can make it, you just might be able to appreciate Kusama’s vibrant visuals in peace.