Temperatures soared into the triple digits in L.A. Friday, but the heat was nothing compared with the fire behind tickets for the Broad museum’s upcoming Yayoi Kusama exhibition.
In less than an hour, the Broad sold all 50,000 tickets released Friday for “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors,” a special exhibition opening Oct. 21 featuring the artist’s immersive mirrored-room installations — Instagram favorites around the world, made more popular by the use of one in an Adele music video. About 150,000 people had joined the online queue for the tickets ($25 apiece) within the first five minutes of the sale, the museum said.
Ticket sales did pause briefly after some confusion over how the museum’s website had been configured to manage the high demand. Around 11 a.m., a Los Angeles Times reporter had alerted readers to the start of ticket sales at noon. The reporter went to verify the Broad’s homepage address, as is standard newsroom procedure, and was redirected to a holding room — a page that explained the museum was preparing for the imminent sale. The reporter saw no indication that she had entered a ticket queue.
According to the Broad, however, the website was giving each visitor to the site a unique ID, one that could accommodate a single person before it expired. The system, a precaution against scalper bots from swarming the site, was not clear to some users. The museum said readers who followed the article link were, therefore, unable to get into queue.
“We paused the ticketing queue until we could figure out more about what happened and why we were seeing a lot of rejected queue numbers,” a Broad representative said. At that point, about 12:20 p.m., the Broad had about 15,000 tickets left, the museum said.
The Times took down the article’s link, and when the Broad ticketing system went live again, about a half-hour later, the remaining tickets were sold in about 10 minutes, the museum said.
“No matter what might have happened, we still had about 150,000 people trying to book tickets, and we only had 50,000 available,” the representative said. “So no matter what happened, it was going to end up disappointing two-thirds of the people anyway.”
The museum has managed website problems in the past, notably when online reservations crashed for its 2015 opening.
Those who missed out on Kusama tickets Friday have another chance. The Broad said it’s reserving about 50,000 standby tickets, to be doled out daily during the run of the exhibition. And the Broad does already have one Kusama installation, “Infinity Mirrored Room — The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away,” as part of its permanent collection. It is the most popular attraction at the museum.
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Sept. 2: This article was updated to correct the publication date from Aug. 31 to Sept. 1.