The Costume Institute’s “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” has passed the one-million visitor mark.
In doing so, the show now is the Costume Institute’s most visited and the third most visited for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Catholic-themed fashion extravaganza knocked out “The Vatican Collections,“ which was held in 1983, in the third-place slot. It is now just behind “Mona Lisa,” a 1963 show and “Treasures of Tutankhamun” from 1978. King Tut still reigns supreme for the Fifth Avenue museum with more than 1.36 million visitors.
But Heavenly Bodies may gain ground since it will continue to be on view at The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters through Oct. 8. Made possible through the support of Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman, and Versace, the show is meant to be a museum journey examining how the Catholic Church has inspired legions of designers. Catholicism — past, present and future — was considered to be a delicate (and exhaustive) subject to tackle. That may be more true now than when it opened in early May, given last week’s report of decades of alleged child sex abuse by more than 300 priests in Pennsylvania.
The Costume Institute wasn’t the only record breaker for the museum. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2018, The Met racked in more than 7.35 million visitors to its three locations — The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Cloisters and The Met Breuer. It was the highest fiscal year attendance in the Museum’s recorded history, due in part to attendance for “Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer.” That show brought in more than 700,000 visitors during its run, which wrapped up Feb. 12 as the 10th most attended show in the Museum’s history.
Fittingly, two people who had a key part in the Costume Institute’s successful run with “Heavenly Bodies” were greeting patrons in the museum Thursday. Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu curator in charge of the Costume Institute and Anna Wintour, artistic director of Condé Nast and editor in chief of Vogue, signed exhibition catalogues for fans for an hour.