Gold is a recurring motif throughout “China: Through the Looking Glass” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Costume Institute seems to have struck gold in terms of the exhibition’s attendance.

This afternoon the museum welcomed the 500,000th visitor to the Andrew Bolton-curated show and when that happened Bolton himself was ready and waiting for a photo op with the unsuspecting guest. He surprised Bianca Klamt, a tourist in from Brazil, with a signed copy of the exhibition’s catalogue. The 500,000 milestone is significant considering the Met had a total of 6.2 million visitors during its 2014 fiscal year. That figure included gallery-goers in its main Fifth Avenue address, as well as The Cloisters museum and gardens farther north. Interest in the China-centric exhibition has been so high that the Met recently revealed plans to extend the show’s run through Labor Day. Organized in conjunction with the Department of Asian Art and spanning close to 30,000 square feet across 16 galleries, the “Alice in Wonderland”-inspired exhibition drew 350,000 visitors in the eight weeks that followed its May 7 opening.

At the moment, the show’s attendance is “nipping at the heels” of The Costume Institute’s all-time attendance leader — “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” in 2011 — and the Met’s eighth most popular, according to a museum spokeswoman. That show tallied 661,509 visitors over a 15-week run, whereas China: Through the Looking Glass will be on view for a total of 19 weeks.

Fans of filmmaker Wong Kar Wai, who served as artistic director and production designer Nathan Crowley of “Interstellar” and “The Dark Knight” fame, no doubt helped to attract visitors to what is The Costume Institute’s largest special exhibition and three times the average size. In addition to the Met’s social media efforts, the show has had the benefit of being sponsored by Yahoo and plugged via Weibo.


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