After unprecedented high demand and late night openings, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty has ended its stint at London’s V&A museum with the news that the exhibit was the most popular in its history. The show, which closed on Sunday nights, sold over 480,000 tickets.
“We planned for it to be more successful than David Bowie [the V&A’s 2013 show which sold 311,956 tickets] but getting 480,000 visitors is over 100,000 more than we expected to get,” said deputy director Tim Reeve of the exhibit’s success. “We have a lot of experience running big exhibitions but we did not predict it would be that big.” During the 21-week run of the show, demand was so high that the museum was forced to remain open overnight in order to accommodate the visitors, who came from all over the world and Europe from countries such as Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Italy and Spain. “It is very tight. During these two weekends the museum got to rest for an hour and a half every 24 hours. It was quite a tech-heavy exhibition with a lot of equipment, holograms, audio and film,” explained Reeve of the £3million show, which is significantly more than the museum has ever spent on a show before. But given that the exhibit won’t be staged again, it seemed that the investment definitely paid off.
“Your first reaction is ‘Oh my God, we have committed to spend £3m on a show that is going to be on for 21 weeks – what happens if they don’t come?’ said Reeve. “Then you see all the reaction on social media and see that the world is waiting for this to happen. About four of five weeks in we knew it was going to be successful and then could enjoy it and try to improve it. You are able to start figuring out which galleries people are enjoying and spending their time in. It is then as a team at the museum you feel a sense of pride. Everyone in the museum and fashion world has been talking about it. The museum’s less sexy collections will get a benefit from that. Many people who came to see the Alexander McQueen or the David Bowie show had never come to the V&A before. Many became members to get in and then they stayed.”