by Barb on August 3, 2011
To say that the attendance of the Alexander McQueen exhibit at The Metropolitan has been astounding would perhaps be an understatement – this past weekend marked a record-breaking attendance of any fashion exhibition at The Met with over 582 000 visits. The previous record holder was set by 2008′s “Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy” exhibition, which raked in 576 000 visits.
I spent the morning of my Summer Friday last week waiting in line for the exhibit. Lines already formed outside of the museum, and obtaining a ticket with my $3.00 (yes, the prices listed on the board are only recommended; and in France, exhibits are often free for those under the age of 26) took a good half-hour. The more daunting wait would be the 2.5 hour line that wound around the museum. In effect, you could say that you at least got to see portions of The Met during this time, although many spent much of their time talking to friends that were brought along, or reading a mighty thick book.
Upon entering the exhibit, I was expecting some breathing room. Rather, the space was filled to capacity with each group let in. It was impossible to maneuver, let alone to fully appreciate the pieces. I wanted to leave immediately – it took me almost forty minutes to exit with the stagnant crowd. Allow me to explain the urgency that I felt in wanting to leave.
While I love exhibitions, I want to be able to enjoy it for fashion (as a history and an art) in its wholeness. I am completely invested when I enter an exhibition space – I take in every bit that I can, from the main attractions to the smallest of textual blurbs. But with so many people, their idle chatter, and lack of space and shuffled movements, the flow of appreciation is constantly and completely disrupted. Granted, I could easily spend the extra time to read each card and to wait my turn to look closely at the textiles, but the exhibition as it was meant to be viewed is absolutely compromised. Reflection isn’t possible since you are watching every step so as to not bump into anyone (yes, it was really that crowded). At that point, what is achieved isn’t appreciation, but rather attaining of having experienced the “novelty” of attending something so highly regarded and popular.
To articulate the extent to which I believe in experiencing the exhibition in full, I had considered paying the $50 for Monday admission; but I couldn’t do it since I’ve worked full-time since I returned to New York (my being in Paris also stopped me from my usual “early bird” eagerness).
Taking in what I could, though, I felt that the exhibit was wonderfully curated. The sectioning off of particular aesthetics of McQueen, as well as evoking careful nuances and atmospheres, managed to grasp me despite the large crowds. For instance, I was able to catch a glimpse of one of the designs be given movement by the simple blowing of a fan, which gave life to the textiles by its singular placement and therefore, accent. With such small details so apparent, I can only help but imagine the power of entering the exhibit alone in silence.
Images courtesy of The Met blog