A Massive Yayoi Kusama Dots Exhibit Heads to Chicago

“Dots Obsession” will occupy the entire atrium of the museum.

Dots Obsession by Yayoi Kusama

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is perhaps best known for her repeating dot patterns.

Courtesy of the WNDR Museum Chicago

Beginning on May 12, visitors to Chicago’s WNDR Museum will be able to fully immerse themselves in Yayoi Kusama’s fascination with polka dots, repetition, and her favorite emotion—feeling small before all of creation—with a three-story-tall infinity room, Dots Obsession.

The installation will fill the atrium of the Chicago branch of the WNDR Museum, an institution dedicated to providing multisensory, fully-immersive art and technology experiences and reimagining “the traditional museum experience through interactive exhibits.” This WNDR Museum was originally founded in 2018 in Chicago as a pop-up. These days, WNDR has outposts in San Diego, Seattle, and soon, Boston. In Chicago, visitors will also find a glowing “light floor” that responds to movement as well as a piece by visual artist Andy Arkley, Try To Get Higher, which combines wood sculpture, music, and video.

Dots Obsession will consist of floating black and yellow polka dot–like orbs in a mirrored room that guests will be able to walk alongside and also interact with via a few peep-in installations. For context, most of Kusama’s infinity rooms, like the ones at the Broad in Los Angeles and Gleaming Lights of the Souls at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, occupy a single room and are one-story tall at most.

“Since my childhood, I have always made works with polka dots. Earth, moon, sun and human beings all represent dots; a single particle among billions,” Kusama has said.

Dot Obsession was created in 2008 by Kusama and has been exhibited in multiple locations around the world, including Lithuania, London, Australia, and Singapore. It was most recently shown in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2018 at Museum MACAN. This will be the first time the installation will be exhibited in the United States.

Dot Obsession will replace the WNDR’s Let’s Survive Forever infinity room, also by Kusama, which was removed from the museum’s Chicago location on April 30 to be shown at its Boston outpost. Of the 20 infinity rooms Kusama has created over her career, Let’s Survive was the Midwest’s only infinity room so it was important to WNDR to keep Kusama in some capacity in Chicago.

“Yayoi Kusama is perhaps the most prolific and celebrated living artist . . . and we are committed to the idea that her work should be experienced by the public as a source of awe and inspiration,” said creative director David Allen. “At WNDR Museum, we are disrupting the sense of exclusivity and distance that too often has marked the experience of art, and we are redefining the museum as a source of engagement and inspirational playfulness.”

A pinhole view of Dots Obsession by Yayoi Kusama

Let’s Survive was the Midwest’s only infinity room so it was important to WNDR to keep Kusama in some capacity in Chicago.

Courtesy of the WNDR Museum Chicago

How to plan your visit to “Dots Obsession”

General admission tickets to the WNDR Museum in Chicago are available through its website and start at $32 per person. Kids ages 3–12 can get in for $22, while those two years old and under don’t have to pay admission. VIP tickets to the museum can also be purchased for $50—this will get visitors a limited-edition pin, a 10 percent discount at the gift shop, a photo, and a second walk-through of the exhibit (general admission only lets guests view the exhibit once).

If you’re planning a trip to Chicago around this exhibit, Nobu Hotel Chicago and the Hoxton Chicago both offer accommodations close to the WNDR, which is located in Fulton Market, the city’s former warehouse district. Nobu Hotel Chicago is less than a 4-minute drive (and a 13-minute walk) from the WNDR and has all the Japanese-inspired luxury guests have come to expect from the brand, plus an on-site Nobu restaurant. The Hoxton is a 5-minute drive away (and a 16-minute walk) and offers tastefully designed rooms that echo the artsy vibes of the warehouse district as well as Cira, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, and Cabra, a rooftop Peruvian cevicheria.

Mae Hamilton is a former associate editor at AFAR. She covers all things related to arts, culture, and the beautiful things that make travel so special.
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