Earlier this year, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. managed to break its attendance records with one exhibit that drew nearly 500,000 visitors during its 11-week run. That's because the institution was the first to lay its lucky, soon polka-dotted hands on Yayoi Kusama's retrospective "Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors," which is currently on a years-long world tour that will continue until the time the now 88-year-old Japanese artist turns 90, with countless selfies (and rising admission prices) along the way.
Kusama's "infinity rooms," polka-dot takeovers of everything from Philip Johnson's Glass House to George Clooney, and giant pumpkins that are even capable of causing expensive selfie accidents, have always been popular. In the '60s, her fame rivaled that of Andy Warhol's—but they've hit a new level of hype in the Instagram age.
Indeed, the artist has always been ahead of the game: Since moving to New York in the '50s at the suggestion of one Georgia O'Keeffe, she's been working with now everyday materials like mirrors (and phalluses) for six decades.
And so if there's any artist to have been secretly working on her own major museum at the same time as her major retrospective for years, even as she approaches her ninth decade, it'd definitely be Kusama—and, in fact, that's exactly what the artist has been up to since at least 2014. Last week, the artist announced that she's in fact already built a museum dedicated to her work—but that it won't be open to the public until October 1.
Tickets, however, which are sold for 90-minute time slots, go on sale on August 28, though beware: the five-story structure, which is found in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, plans to be closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. It also plans to host two exhibitions a year, the first of which will be up until February and showcase her recent, boldly hued paintings. (Its title is also definitely a real mouthful: "Creation is a Solitary Pursuit, Love is What Brings You Closer to Art.")
Given that the institution sounds like a far cry from the one-bedroom institutional apartment with little more than a bed, desk, refrigerator, bookshelf, and closet that Kusama, despite the multimillion-dollar sales of her works, has been known to live in, it is still somewhat of a mystery how its development has managed to stay largely under wraps. As Artnet notes, a blogger did post photos of what appeared to be a museum in progress on a Japanese version of Yahoo all the way back in 2014, though they made little noise in the press.
That's likely because that was all part of Kusama's plan, too. A spokesperson for one of her galleries, David Zwirner, said that the museum has indeed been "in the works for some time," but that Kusama "wanted to keep it as a surprise for her fans." And, of course, she succeeded: Even when she's on another continent, the artist somehow still never misses a dot, as Clooney can readily attest.
Go Behind the Polka-Dot Scenes of Yayoi Kusama's Glass House Takeover: