Yayoi Kusama: Open the Shape Called Love

January 31, 2020 - March 27, 2021

Painting of abstract black and green net by Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama is one of the most admired of all contemporary artists. Her “Infinity Rooms,” mirrored and specially lit environments, have recently been a premier attraction for art lovers all over the world. This exhibition presents the distinguished collection of James Keith Brown ’84 and Eric Diefenbach to explore other aspects of her oeuvre, with a special concentration on the early works on paper of the 1950s, a full range of intimate “dot paintings” and “net paintings,” examples of her provocative sculpture and multi-media work, and one tabletop mirror box.


Digital Exhibition Materials

Because of the Museum’s temporary closure, we have extended this exhibition through October 18, 2020. Until the Ackland reopens to the public, we are pleased to share a number of online features that can help give a sense of the show.

  • For simple 360-degree video views of the exhibition, click here.
  • For the text of the exhibition introduction and the commentaries on the twenty-two works of art in the show, with illustrations, click here.
  • For photographs of the installation, scroll to the bottom of this page or click here.
  • To purchase the fully illustrated catalog, with extensive scholarship and an essay, click here.



Click here to read the press release.
Click here to see promotional images and credits.
Click on the arrow below to listen to the radio commercial.

Come to the Ackland Art Museum to see “Yayoi Kusama: Open the Shape Called Love.” Featuring the contemplative, handmade side of Kusama, the exhibition includes intimate paintings, provocative sculpture, and a tabletop mirror box — the precursor of her wildly popular infinity rooms. Open from January 31st through April 11th at the Ackland Art Museum, located at 101 South Columbia Street in downtown Chapel Hill. Admission to the Ackland is always free. The Ackland: Look Close, Think Far.


Guided Tours

Guided Tours of Yayoi Kusama: Open the Shape Called Love and Toriawase: A Special Installation of Modern Japanese Art and Ceramics. Free; no registration required.

Select Weekdays | 1:30 p.m.

February 5, Feb 14, Feb 20, Feb 26, 2020

March 5, Mar 13*, Mar 18*, Mar 26*, 2020

April 3*, 8*, 9*, 10*, 2020


Public Programs*

2nd Friday ArtWalk
February 14, 2020 | 5 – 9 p.m.

See Yayoi Kusama: Open the Shape Called Love during our 2nd Friday evening hours! Throughout the night, experience Kusama-inspired modern dance performances choreographed by Killian Manning and screenings of Kusama’s 1967 experimental film Self Obliteration (23 mins).

Free; no RSVP required.

Book Discussion with Carolina Public Humanities*
Friday, March 13, 2020 | 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Museum open until 9 p.m. for 2nd Friday ArtWalk

“The Convenient Spot: Patterns and Repetition in Japanese Art and Literature at the Ackland”
Register for a book discussion program with Carolina Public Humanities that pairs Yayoi Kusama: Open the Shape called Love with Sayaka Murata’s award-winning short novel Convenience Store Woman. The discussion of the book and a look at the art will be facilitated by UNC lecturer Yuko Kato and Ackland Director of Education and Interpretation Carolyn Allmendinger.
$30 per person (includes a copy of the book and light refreshments), Register HERE!

Dance in the Galleries*
Sunday, March 15, 2020 | 2 p.m.

An afternoon of pop-up dance performances inside of and inspired by Yayoi Kusama: Open the Shape Called Love, choreographed by Killian Manning.

Connect the Dots on Arts Everywhere Day*
Friday, April 3, 2020

Experience Yayoi Kusama’s provocative and performative side as polka dotted pop-up activities infiltrate UNC’s campus during Arts Everywhere Day, a campus celebration of global arts.


Kids and Families

Family and Friends Sunday*
March 22, 2020 | 2—5 p.m.

Inspired by Yayoi Kusama: Open the Shape Called Love and Toriawase: A Special Installation of Modern Japanese Art and Ceramics, choreographer Killian Manning has planned an interactive afternoon of site-specific, art-inspired dance in the galleries. Visitors of all ages will be invited to join dancers in movement and dance in response to the art on view.

Art Adventures
Select Saturdays | 10:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m.
Hands-on art-making classes for 6-9 year-olds; register at ackland.org

Saturday, February 8, 2020
Kusama-Inspired Tote Bags

Saturday, March 14, 2020*
Toriawase-Inspired Mobiles

Virtual Family and Friends Sunday
May 31, 2020 | 2—5 p.m.

Explore the world of Yayoi Kusama with a storytime, polka-dot crafts, and a closer look at her works on display at the Ackland for our first Virtual Family & Friends Sunday!


Ackland Film Forum

The Patterned Screen: Rhythm and Repetition in Contemporary Asian Cinema
Co-sponsored by the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of English and Comparative Literature

Screenings held at Varsity Theatre | 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted*
Tickets $7 per person; free with UNC One Card

Monday, February 3, 2020
(Dir. Kon Satoshi, 2006, Japan)

Tuesday, February 4, 2020 | *Ackland Art Museum | 5:30 p.m.
Ackland Film Forum Talk: “Intermedial Feeling: How Kon Satoshi Animates the Self”
Thomas Lamarre (Middle Eastern and Asian Studies, Duke University)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020
(Dir. Bong Joon-ho, 2009, South Korea)

Monday, March 16, 2020*
The Grandmaster
(Dir. Wong Kar-wai, 2013, Hong Kong)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020*
Ash is Purest White (Dir. Zhangke Jia, 2018, China)

*These Kusama-inspired public programs were canceled due to COVID-19 Museum closures.

Yayoi Kusama: Open the Shape Called Love is supported in part by Bank of America.

bank of america logo

Image credit: Yayoi Kusama, Japanese, born 1929, Untitled, 1967, oil on masonite, 16 x 18 in. (40.6 x 45.7 cm). Collection of James Keith Brown ‘84 and Eric Diefenbach.