People Are Scalping Tickets to the ICA Boston’s Yayoi Kusama Exhibition

The museum is instituting measures to try to respond to the frenzy around the show.

Yayoi Kusama pictured with her work LOVE IS CALLING, 2013 at David Zwirner, New York, 2013.

When there’s a big game or a hot concert, it’s not uncommon to see internet sites like StubHub and Craigslist flooded with entrepreneurial scalpers re-selling batches of tickets for inflated prices. It’s rare for a museum show though. Yet this is exactly what is happening for ICA Boston’s current show, “Yayoi Kusama: Love is Calling.

The exhibition, which opened on September 24, features the largest museum-owned Infinity Room in North America, also titled LOVE IS CALLING, a dark cavernous room with polka-dotted tentacles sprouting from the ground and ceiling. Demand to get a glimpse has driven the internet wild.

Tickets sold through the museum cost $15. Those currently listed on StubHub, however, start at $18, with most priced at around $20, with about three weeks worth of tickets listed with multiple time slots offered for up to nine tickets. Not a bad payday for someone gaming the system.

The show is technically already sold out through October 31. ICA’s communications director Margaux Leonard told the Boston Globe that the museum had been blindsided by the situation. She also said that it was taking unnamed steps to make sure the scalping didn’t happen again when the next batches of tickets are released later this month (members get a shot on October 8; the general public, on the 15th).

Meanwhile, the ICA was guaranteeing a limited number of first-come, first-served tickets for those frozen out of the opening weeks.

Long lines, both online and real life, have long been characteristic of Kusama’s Infinity Room works, which have proved perfect for the smartphone generation. At one point, over 100,000 people were waiting in a virtual line for passes to the Broad Museum’s Kusama show last year, which sold out in a flash.

Indeed, scalpers have dogged Kusama shows for years now. Prices for resold passes to the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Kusama show on StubHub soared to as high as a reported $250 apiece, despite the fact that the museum warned that all tickets were non-transferable.


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