At Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, there has been a rather ironic– and even, scary– turn of events for what has been deemed as this year’s most instagrammable art exhibit by none other than — a selfie-taker.
This heart palpitating event took place literally just days after artist Yayoi Kusama’s acclaimed exhibition titled, “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” premiered at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Days! Days I tell you! Which leads me to conclude:
…This is why we can’t have nice things.
You know it just got #awkward when ArtNet gets word and posts an ever so clever byline of, “Mellon collie and the infinite sadness descends upon the museum after the high-priced sculpture was damaged”. Nice Smashing Pumpkins reference ArtNet. Nice.
And by “high-priced” they mean somewhere along the lines of $784,485.
That’s right. Take it in.
Yes, you’re in the wrong profession.
One of the artist’s four-foot-high polka-dotted pumpkins went for a whopping $784,485 at an October 2015 Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong.
The exhibition “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” which includes the famous All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins (2016) opened just three days prior has been immensely popular.
The room features a kaleidoscopic madness of glowing polka-dot pumpkin sculptures fabricated from fiberglass, reinforced plastic and urethane paint in a low-lit environment surrounded by reflective glass. It contains just one very narrow walkway, serving to properly contain no more than three exhibition goers at a time on 30 second viewing intervals.
One can see how this is a potential recipe for disaster.
One of the visitors apparently lost his footing while inside the bedazzling mirror-lined room while taking a selfie and crashed down into one of the polka dot gourds causing damage. This information was relayed to CityLab staff writer and art critic Kriston Capps, who immediately posted the news to his Twitter account.
Interim director of communications and marketing at the museum, Allison Peck confirmed the damage and the temporary closing of the pumpkins room, but assured people that it would be available for viewing again shortly.
According to the DCist, the exhibition, which has been open for just four days has already garnered an approximate 8,000 visitors. People have been lining up as much as an hour before daily passes are handed out at 10AM and lines have stacked up inside the installation rooms, however are said to typically last less than a minute.
“We have actually just never had a show with that kind of visitor demand”, quoted Peck to the New York Times.
The room officially reopened today and the artist is said to be ordering a replacement which will arrive within the next few weeks.
As of today, the Hirshorn website released that all advanced timed passes have been claimed up until mid-March, with the next release date being March 6th for the week of the 14th through the 20th.
Kusama is far from the only artist to have suffered damage to a valuable work during an exhibition, and she definitely won’t be the last.
In 2006 a museum goer did $800,000 in damages when he tripped over his shoelace and fell down a staircase crashing into 300-year-old Chinese vases at Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum. It took restoration crews six months to repair the vases.
Back in 2000 porters at Sotheby’s auction house in London destroyed a Lucian Freud by placing it into a crushing machine. The workers had mistakenly assumed the box which had contained the piece to be empty only to find that it was $157,000 worth of emptiness. Pretty sure the only thing that was empty from that point on was their paychecks.
In 2010, a student tripped, accidentally ripping a Picasso painting worth $130 million by the name of “The Actor” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and pieces of German artist Gustav Metzger’s Recreation of First Public Demonstration of Auto-Destructive Art were mistakenly thrown away by museum staff at Tate Britain.
Famed artist Damien Hirst also lost a part of his exhibition due to workers mistaking it for rubbish at London’s Eyestorm Gallery. The beer bottles, coffee cups and ashtrays, which were meant to depict the artist’s life were accidentally thrown out by a janitor.
However, perhaps none have suffered such ill-fate as Rembrandt’s 1642 Night Watch, which garnered an average of 4,000 to 5,000 visitors daily during its time on display at Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The classic painting, estimated at just slightly under one-million dollars suffered an attempted knife slash by an unemployed navy cook and in 1975 was slashed into by a mentally disturbed patron.
Approximately fifteen years later it was attacked yet again by a man named Hans-Joachim Bohlmann, who threw acid on it. Fortunately museum staff were able to dilute the chemical with water before causing too much irreparable damage.