A Word About The Crowds At The Alexander McQueen Exhibition
August 1, 2011
Yesterday, The Shophound finally made it to the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We're not going to go on and on about it other than to say it is one of the best fashion exhibitions in recent memory, and worth seeing even if you aren't all that into clothes. It will close after this weekend, so this is your last chance to see it.
One would have thought we would have been first in line when it opened so many months ago, but we have a strong aversion to crowds and waiting in line, so we were trying to find a time to go to the museum when we could avoid those things. Eventually we realized that the show had become so popular that no such time existed, and when we stopped by a few times at what we thought would be odd hours, we were informed of two hours or more in wait times. Finally, we decided to go at the opening hour on Sunday morning, and though we didn't breeze through, here's some tips for those of you who will want to catch the exhibition in its last week.
GO EARLY, but not too early. We arrive at the museum at 9:30 when it opens its doors, a bit later than we had planned. To our growing horror, there was a line out the front door, down the steps, all the way to 84th Street. We were almost about to turn and go when when museum guards had formed a second line at the entrance that barely made it down the steps. Did we feel a bit like we were cutting? We felt more like we dodged a bullet, and much better than if we had arrived a hour earlier to wait outside in the hot sun. One obstacle averted.
BUY A MEMBERSHIP. It's $100, but you can cut the lines. Even though we arrived at the moment the museum opened, there was already an hour-long wait inside the museum to enter the exhibition. We did have the advantage of being able to look at European Paintings and Sculpture and Central Asian Art while we waited which was some consolation, but know that there is a special membership table set up at the entrance to the show for anyone feeling overwhelmed with more waiting. Also know that by 11:30, when we exited the exhibition, the line had nearly quadrupled in length, winding around the entire second floor balcony.
LEAVE THE KIDS AT HOME. The museum is a wonderful place for children, but not this show. Forget about some of the disturbing themes of McQueen's work, the first three rooms of the show are so crowded that they won't be able to see anything. The scene looks something like the picture above. Never mind how delightful kids can be when waiting in a slow-moving line.
GET THE RECORDED TOUR. You might think you know everything there is to know about Alexander McQueen, but the tour not only contains important commentary from curator Andrew Bolton, but also from Sarah Burton, Philip Treacy and several other people with insightful, often surprising things to say about the designer. Besides, the item descriptions in the exhibition are at about mid-shin level, and even the introductory comments on the walls are difficult to read through the crowds.
HAVE PATIENCE. As we mentioned, the first rooms of the show are so crowded and bottlenecked that you might feel on the edge of a claustrophobic fit. if you persevere, however, the congestion seems to ease up after that, and you can more fully appreciate the show.
It takes an extra effort to see this show, for sure, but it is well worth the trouble. It turns out that MCQueen was an even more thoughtful and creative designer then he was given considerable credit for being during his short career. The exhibition shows him to have been the rare decorative artist who was able to transcend his chosen discipline. See it while you can.