An hour earlier, the Hirshhorn began distributing free passes to 18,000 subscribers of its electronic newsletter. That giveaway seemed to be smooth, although inventory appeared limited after 30 minutes. The museum gave away 9,000 passes for Feb. 23-27. A few thousand more were held back to distribute to walk-up visitors.
“Didn’t think it would be that easy,” wrote Leo Dillon in an email after he scored four tickets. The Arlington resident signed up for the newsletter last week to get a head-start on the passes. Subscribers were emailed a link with access to the passes.
“Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” is a retrospective of the Japanese artist known for her love of polka dots. It opens Feb. 23 for a 14-week run. The Hirshhorn plans to distribute free timed passes every Monday for the following week. (On Feb. 20 at noon, passes for Feb. 28-March 6 will be released.)
Patrons looking for passes at noon were greeted with an error message instructing them to contact the Smithsonian’s help desk. Many took to social media to voice their displeasure. A Hirshhorn spokeswoman said the website was running about 15 minutes later, and that museum staff were sending people directly to tickets.com.
“As of right now, almost all timed passes have been claimed for opening weekend; a few single passes remain and those that are in people’s “carts” as they complete the process,” spokeswoman Allison Peck said in an email before 1 p.m.
Similar computer problems have plagued the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which has required timed passes since opening Sept. 24. That museum has experienced trouble three of the four times it made advance passes available. The distribution of a smaller number of same-day passes, which opens weekdays at 6:30 a.m., goes smoothly.
The Hirshhorn also announced it will sell $50 Kusama Circle memberships, which allow holders to attend without a pass. Members may bring one guest and can gain entry by going to the member’s line in the museum lobby. Annual memberships to the museum usually start at $250.