When it comes to driving attendance numbers, controversy, it appears, can be a good thing. On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that its spring exhibit, "China: Through the Looking Glass," will be extended three weeks through Labor Day, Sept. 7, as it's already one of the museum's most popular exhibits ever.
The show — which is physically the largest in the Costume Institute's history, spanning 30,000 square feet and 16 galleries — has drawn more than 350,000 visitors in its first eight weeks, "pacing close" to 2011's record-breaking "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" exhibit, according to a press statement issued by the museum. "Savage Beauty" was the Costume Institute's most popular exhibit, and the Met's eighth most popular exhibit to date.
"China: Through the Looking Glass," as we've detailed previously, looks at how China has inspired Western fashion designers, including the ways in which the country's traditional symbols and aesthetics have been appropriated by them. It's a multi-media showcase spanning not just fashion design, but also Chinese costume, painting, porcelain, calligraphy and other artistic disciplines.
The exhibit drew, perhaps, a little more attention than the Met bargained for when the public began to speculate on how attendees of its annual, high-profile Costume Institute Gala — which always matches the exhibit in theme — could interpret that theme in offensive ways. And while there were some who missed the mark, including Lady Gaga in a kimono-inspired getup and Dakota Johnson carrying a Chanel bag shaped like a China doll; for the most part, it was a success, and a safer theme would no doubt have drawn less visitors. As the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity.