Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors” is the most popular exhibit the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden—and possibly the entire city—has ever seen. So far, more than 22,000 people have experienced Kusama’s glittery mirrored rooms, driving some of the highest attendance numbers the museum’s had since it opened in 1974.
Every Monday at noon, the Hirshhorn releases a limited number of free timed passes through an online portal. The first three batches were gobbled up within a minute of being released (58,000 people requested passes the first week), leaving thousands of people empty-handed. If you were one of those people or want to go back a second time, here are some things to keep in mind.
How to get tickets
You have two options: Watch the clock on your computer like a hawk and try your luck to secure a timed pass at noon on Monday—or, go to the Hirshhorn any day in the morning and get in line for a walk-up pass. If you’re going for the noon release and have a flexible schedule, grab one without specifying a time. Choosing “first available” will get you through faster, as most people want to go on the weekend or after work hours. Because the Hirshhorn is experimenting with how many tickets it’s giving out each week so it can more precisely control the crowds, your chance of securing one will always be different. It released 14,000 the first week, 5,000 the second week, and 9,000 the third. It hasn’t announced how many tickets will be made available next Monday.
If you’d rather stay away from the online frenzy, you can also line up before 9:30 AM any day to try to get a same-day pass. Spokesperson Allison Peck says the Hirshhorn releases as many as “several hundred” passes per day based on the number of school and community groups. Most visitors report arriving between 8 and 9 AM to claim walkups without issue. And remember, you have until May 14 to get in before the exhibit closes.
While you wait outside, go to Dolcezza’s pop-up cafe in a shipping container in the Hirshhorn’s courtyard, where you can buy coffee, gelato pops, and pastries.
What to expect once you’re in
Long lines. Although the Hirshhorn is now keeping the exhibit open until 8 PM on Wednesdays and reducing the number of people who can go through at once to ease crowding, plan to wait for over an hour to see all six rooms of Kusama’s exhibit. The Hirshhorn recommends budgeting 2 to 3 hours for the entire visit. You only get 20 to 30 seconds in each room, so if you want to take a selfie, snap quickly.
Certain rooms have longer wait times than others. The first one, “Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field,” is not as trippy as the others since it doesn’t have twinkling lights, so it’s not quite as popular. “The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” and “Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity” will likely have the longest lines. After someone accidentally broke one of Kusama’s hand-painted acrylic gourds in “All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins,” the Hirshhorn bulked up its security outside the room. Be extra careful once you’re inside.
Should you take a selfie and post it to Instagram?