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Experience Fireflies on the Water at Toledo Museum of Art

Even though so many things have gone virtual to accommodate for COVID-19, virtual experiences often do not compare to live ones when it comes to art. Some art just has to be seen. Yayoi Kusama’s Fireflies on the Water is one of those experiences best seen in person. Currently, you can view Fireflies on the Water at the Toledo Museum of Art through January 3, 2021.

Yayoi Kusama was born in Japan in 1929 and has become one of the most significant artists of our time. In addition to painting, sculpture, and performance art, she has created installations called Infinity Mirror Rooms. Fireflies on the Water is one of the Infinity Mirror Rooms that uses lights, water, and mirrors to explore one’s place in the world.

At the Toledo Museum of Art, the installation is setup on the Canaday Gallery Bridge, so you already feel like you are crossing over into a different space. Viewers approach a white room with a singular door. While you wait to enter, the walls have information about Kusama and her art. A museum associate opens the door for you, allowing you to walk up the ramp and into Fireflies on the Water. Then the door closes.

entering fireflies on the water
The entrance to Fireflies on the Water is an unassuming white door.

It’s such a unique experience. It’s so quiet. It’s so dark, yet light twinkles every way you look. The water shimmers reflections onto the mirrors which shimmer reflections onto the water, which all shimmer back onto you. You may wish to close your eyes and imagine being in a different place; standing at a small dock in the middle of the night at an expansive lake filled with stars and fireflies that go on forever – but! – you only have 6o seconds to take it all in, so you can’t close your eyes or you feel you will miss it. Sixty seconds feels like enough time to experience it, yet also feels like not enough. And then the door opens and your turn is up.

I wanted to go back the second the door opened.

It’s magical. It’s delightful. It’s art that creates connections and reflections, and it’s definitely something to experience yourself.

immersive art experience
What an experience! From inside Fireflies on the Water. Photo by Anne Evans.

Tickets must be reserved in advance, and weekends are usually booked first. Tickets are $5 and you book for a time slot. The museum asks that you please arrive within five minutes of your designated time to be guaranteed entrance. The Toledo Museum of Art is complying with all COVID-19 safety guidelines and masks are required. Children age 2 and younger and not permitted into the exhibit; age 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Others will enter the room individually, and the exhibit is ADA accessible. A wheelchair is available if you feel you may become disoriented while viewing the exhibition.

Toledo Museum of Artt
The entrance to the Toledo Museum of Art.

For tickets and more information, visit toledomuseum.org.

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Anne Evans

Anne Evans is the Co-Founder and Director of Operations for The Metropreneur and Columbus Underground. Her regular columns are At Home, focused on living in urban areas and historic homes, At Work, focused on working in urban areas and creative spaces, and Mega Weekend, plus whatever other Columbus stories there are that need to be told! She also advocates for Columbus City Schools and actively works to improve the elementary school at Hubbard Avenue. Want to chat about any of these things? Send me an email!

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