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Alexander McQueen Show Ranked Met's Eighth Most Popular Ever

By Amy Zimmer | August 8, 2011 3:54pm
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MANHATTAN — By the time the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art closed its doors on Sunday — at an unprecedented midnight closing time to accommodate the throngs of crowds — more than 661,500 museum goers had visited the show, Met officials announced Monday.

The Costume Institute's "Savage Beauty" exhibit of the works of the late British fashion designer McQueen ran from May 4 and was extended a week to Aug. 7, landing on the museum's top 10 most visited exhibitions, according to Met officials.

It became the eighth most popular show in the Met's 141-year history, joining other blockbusters such as Treasures of Tutankhamun (1978), Mona Lisa (1963), and Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2010).

"We are enormously gratified that visitors turned out in record numbers to view this powerful exhibition of McQueen's work," Thomas Campbell, the Met's director and CEO, said in a statement. "The show was an elegant tribute to the designer's artistry, and we are proud to have shared it with such a broad audience, eager to experience the breadth of his genius."

The scene at the museum was fairly chaotic in the show's closing days as the Met pulled previously promised privileges that had allowed members the right to skip the line — or rather left it up to long-standing members to negotiate with museum staff, museum officials had said. 

The Met noted that During more than 23,000 new members joined during the show's run —more than double last year's comparable numbers.

"I was in line for 7 hours yesterday @metmuseum to see The Alexander McQueen Exhibit on its last day," tweeted jewelry designer Marti Heil @FablesJewelry on Sunday. "Have never done anything like that."

Vogue editor Anna Wintour also reportedly attended the finale.

McQueen was 40 when he took his own life last February, on the eve of New York's Fashion Week. Designer Sarah Burton was working for McQueen's line when she designed Kate Middleton's Royal Wedding dress.

Museum officials said the show could not be extended further since the galleries were needed to prep for "Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India, 1100-1900," which opens on Sept. 28.

For McQueen fans, there will be another opportunity to see his work on display when the Fashion Institute of Technology opens a show on Sept. 16 featuring 100 items from the closet of Daphne Guinness, an heiress of the Guinness fortune, who was a close friend and collector of McQueen's clothes and shoes. 

The exhibition will include more than two dozen McQueen garments that have never been displayed, FIT officials said.

There will also be "extraordinary" haute couture from Chanel, Dior, Givenchy and others.