How To Get Into “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” at SAM (the Right Way)

Posted on August 03, 2017, 12:10 pm
7 mins


With just a month left at SAM’s presentation of Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, those who want to see the blockbuster exhibit need to make plans now. Advanced tickets sold out before it opened, but same-day tickets are released each morning and the hours have been slightly extended. Those tickets sell out early each day, and the lines in the morning are getting longer as time passes. The early bird definitely gets the worm.

But you don’t need to be there SUPER early. We have some general tips for visitors, especially those coming from out of town. The “plan your visit” page on the exhibition website has plenty of good info, but we have some additional tips.

First, Get There Before the Museum Opens

On weekdays, you’ll see some people line up as early as 8:30, though the museum opens at 10am. That’s playing it extra safe. On most days, anyone who has arrived by the time the museum opens has been able to get a ticket. It’s a little less safe to assume that on weekends, when more people have the day off.

If you have only a day (taking off work, visiting from out of town), showing up a little extra early is probably a good idea. This is also true if you have to be somewhere later in the day. The earliest arrivals get the earliest time slots to see the show. Those further back in line will get a ticket for a later time slot.

You’ll note that on the main page of the exhibition site, there is a ticker that notifies you when tickets are sold out that day. You’ll probably learn from someone at the museum before you get the update on the website, though, if you already there. And if the museum is open and you are reading the ticker at home, you’re already too late.

Second, Membership Has Its Benefits

Members aren’t guaranteed tickets, but they have much better odds. Once the museum opens, there is a general admission line and a members line. The latter is typically shorter, so if you aren’t already a member, then consider joining. You’ll be supporting the museum, increasing your odds of seeing the show, and you’ll get benefits year-round. Oh, and you’ll see Infinity Mirrors for free. Sign up online.

Third, Use Your Free Time Well

It’s best to be at the entrance of the exhibit 15 minutes before your scheduled entry time. That means you shouldn’t go too far from the museum, even if you have a few hours to kill.

Among the current exhibits at Seattle Art Museum, I’d say the display of work by Sam Gilliam is the most complementary to Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit. Like Kusama, Gilliam created large scale, abstract, colorful paintings back in the 50s and 60s. You’d never mistake one for the other; the styles are totally different. But they are both a bit psychedelic, so it’s good to pair them on the same “trip.”

If you have a few hours, maybe you’ll want top get off your feet for a bit. The Seattle Art Museum’s restaurant, TASTE, doesn’t open until 11am, but you have plenty of great options for a snack nearby that are open early. My top choice is Goldfinch Tavern in the Four Seasons Hotel across the street. I love their green smoothies in the morning. (Ask for a little extra ginger if you order it and want just the slightest kick.) You’ll get a gorgeous view of Elliott Bay, good service, and some quiet time off your feet.

Pike Place Market is just a block away, too. You’ll already be dealing with crowds, so that might be a bit much, especially on weekends. However, if seeing the market was already on your to-do list, it couldn’t be more convenient, and you’ll have plenty of options for food.

Photo by Natali Wiseman, courtesy of Seattle Art Museum.

Four, Go Ahead and Take a Selfie at The Exhibit

You’ve made it in. And now you’re in line again for your 15-30 seconds inside an infinity room. Get your phone ready in advance and turn the flash off. Only one room doesn’t allow for selfies. #InfiniteKusama #YayoiKusama #InfinityRoom @seattleartmuseum

Or don’t! I personally flinch at the idea that we SHOULD take selfies in these rooms. This is a rare opportunity to contemplate a very abstract, powerful concept (infinity) in a sensible way. Maybe using your 20-30 seconds to do that instead of getting your best angle will have a more profound effect. It’s up to you, but I stand in solidarity with you if you shun the selfie. #egodeath #IllusionarySelf #CheerfulNihilism

Update (August 8, 4:22pm): Fellow arts writer Sarra Scherb pointed out that it is worth mentioning a time saving trick for solo guests of the exhibit. Depending on who is directing the line to a given Infinity Room, you may get this info, or you may not. Many of the rooms have room for three visitors, so guests coming as a pair may opt to to wait together if a another duo is in front of them. If you are solo, you can skip the longer line and wait by the room’s entrance to go in as a spare with a pair. The perks of being a loner!

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors is on display at Seattle Art Museum through September 10.

Featured Image: “Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, 2009,” Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner. © YAYOI KUSAMA

T.s. Flock is a writer and arts critic based in Seattle and co-founder of Vanguard Seattle.