It is easy to fall into the same rut of time with little kids. Henry and I have our routines, our walks, our games at home, our chores, our (finally) blissful nap schedule, our rhythms. They are predictable and easy and really nice. But as Henry gets old enough to “enjoy” things (beyond just “crying” or “not crying”), I want to do a better job of venturing out and around this awesome city. Especially since so much of it is free, something I always forget when we travel and encounter museums and monuments where you must pay to enter.
When I read about the Kusama Infinity Mirrors exhibit opening at the Hirschhorn, I was excited to try it. It seemed a lot like the Wonder exhibit, in that it perfectly appeals to our photo-sharing (self?) obsessed generation because oooohhhhh the Instagrams!!! Also, as it had been years since I had been to the Hirschhorn, and it seemed like a fun outing to do with Henry, I was excited to see it. I managed to get tickets (see end of post) and recruited my friend Anna and her girls to join us. Because what could possibly be difficult about talking 2 babies and a toddler to a museum on the mall, to an exhibit where you wait in tons of lines for 30 seconds in rooms that are SO COOL AND TOUCHABLE but where you may touch NOTHING.
Squeezing all the littles in the back seat to facilitate parking. Parking itself. Lines. Waiting. Small spaces. Skipping nap time. snacks. WAITING. Rules. WAAIIITTTTIINNNGGG. These are the things that make outings to art museums very difficult with tiny people.
But those tiny people also make it really fun. The endless mirrors and crazy interiors make each Infinity room an experience in infinite narcissism, with everyone viewing the rooms almost exclusively mediated through their phones and cameras. I’m not totally opposed to that. The exhibit manages to capture an obsession with infinity and our own desire to capture it all at once and that is both intriguing and convicting. If the lines were not so long for each room, it would have been wonderful to go through once to enjoy, again to memorialize. Instead, Anna and I snapped away.
The kids however, took it in. The two babies just stared wide eyed at the lights and shapes, while the toddler, after being cautioned by a docent not to touch anything, walked into the first room of giant pink balls and just started gasping “No! Noooo! Nooooooo!” as she held her arms tightly in, using every once of control to not touch all the exhibits that were just so touchable. The most impressive room was, as she christened it, “the star room:”
Aptly named, Mollie, aptly named.
After rooms of things that just begged to be touched and were forbidden……we finally got to the last room where we were given a sheet of stickers and as much time as we wanted to add them to the art. I’m pretty sure that we could have spent much longer in there than we did, as Mollie kept rearranging stickers that were already there, and we all loved watching a really tall guy try to jump and get one above all the others on the wall.
All in all, a rave success for Henry’s first art museum.
If you go…
If you are in DC, or coming through, or going to be in one of the cities it visits, I highly recommend it. To get tickets (which are free), you have to get on the site and reserve them the Monday before the week you want to go. They go live at noon, and people have been freaking out across the city about how fast they go. I logged on at 11:55 and refreshed the page until they showed up at noon. I was able to grab some for a Tuesday afternoon fairly easily, but all were gone by about 12:05. You get a specific time slot and there is really no incentive to show up before that, as being first in line for your time slot maybe only shaves a minute or two off your wait once you are in the exhibit. If you are going with kids, babies that are worn aren’t included in the people count (only 3 allowed in a room at a time, and you only get 20-30 seconds inside) and don’t require tickets. Any other children do. I think the only age that would be really tricky would be a toddler too big/old to be worn, but not yet as responsive to being told not to touch everything. For each room’s individual line, I waited while Anna entertained the kids, and then they were allowed to rejoin me to enter the room. Some rooms had short lines of 5 minutes, and one (the star one) was closer to 30-40. We discussed going again with more friends with kids, skipping all the rooms, and just hanging in the sticker room indefinitely.