Ontario gallery uses crowdfunding to fund new acquisition

Ontario gallery uses crowdfunding to fund new acquisition
Installation view of ‘Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors’, 'Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away', Yayoi Kusama, 2013. Courtesy Flickr Commons.
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In a December 4th press release the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto cheerfully announced that their crowdfunding effort to acquire Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room – Let’s Survive Forever was an absolute success. ‘Thanks to over 4,700 #InfinityAGO donors’ read the release stating that the AGO successfully raised the necessary funds to purchase Kusama’s installation.

Artist Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy Flickr Commons.

The recent announcement follows an initiative begun at the start of November. A November 1st press release previously invited Torontonians to donate funds for the prospective acquisition. The AGO, which runs primarily off of donations and grants, decided to ask the public to contribute after the David Yuile & Mary Elizabeth Hodgson Fund – part of the AGO Foundation – pledged funds towards the acquisition. Donations ranged from $1 to $25,000 but the majority the gifts were between $25-$100. In just a month, AGO crowdsourced $651,183 CAD to accompany the pledge in meeting the $2 million CAD ($1.5 million USD) goal.

Alastair Woods of Toronto told the AGO ‘When I first heard about the #InfinityAGO campaign, I immediately wanted to make a donation because I’m a huge fan of Kusama’s work and the AGO in general.’ Woods continued: ‘[p]art of me thought how neat it would be to walk into the Infinity Mirror Room knowing that I had played a small part in helping bring it to Toronto forever.’

This type of enthusiasm was exactly what the AGO hoped would come from their initiative. In the November press release, Stephen Jost, AGO director and CEO stated: ‘Yayoi Kusama is one of the most important artists alive today. The opportunity to have an Infinity Mirror Room as part of the AGO’s collection is deeply exciting.’

Let’s Survive Forever features a room decked out in mirrors with floating silver balls that offers Instagram-worthy experiences. Having just wrapped up a stint at Chicago’s Wndr Museum, the installation is expected to makes its Canadian debut in the spring of 2019. Those who contributed $25 or more to the cause will have the chance to see the installation before it’s opened to the public. This will be the first Infinity Mirror Room acquired by a Canadian institution and it follows the positive responses the AGO received after their spring 2018 show ‘Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors.’ During that show between May and March, over 165,000 people were wowed by the avant-garde installations and the museum had to extend operating hours to appease the eager crowds. The AGO expects Let’s Survive Forever to draw similar crowds, however, this time, it is the museum’s hope that visitors will feel a sense of ownership after playing a role in bringing the monumental artwork to Toronto to stay. Jost noted the public’s interest in the work stating: ‘[w]e know that the people of Toronto have a special bond with Kusama and her art.’ ‘It is time,’ Jost said, ‘that a major Kusama Infinity Mirror Room be here in our city and province.’

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