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Met Museum Extends Hours for Alexander McQueen Exhibition

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The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has extended its "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" show through August 7 to allow more people to see the late British fashion designer's edgy Victorian and Modern designs. The Met also announced this week that it would allow the public to buy $50 tickets to peruse the show on Mondays, when the museum is usually closed.

"Savage Beauty" opened on May 4 to record-breaking crowds — the public opening-day attendance surpassed that of all previous Costume Institute exhibitions. Of past shows at the Met as a whole, the only show with better opening-day attendance was "Vincent van Gogh: The Drawings" on view in 2005.

The McQueen exhibit has maintained its appeal since it opened, drawing over 180,000 visitors to date. The full run of "Savage Beauty" is expected to bring the highest number of visitors to an exhibit in the history of the museum.

“The originality of [McQueen’s] contribution to fashion has … sparked tremendous interest,” said Harold Holzer, a museum spokesperson. “[Visitors] are clearly familiar with the world of fashion, they are excited about being in a museum, and … many of them are dressing in pretty high style themselves. Some of them are wearing their own McQueens, some of them are wearing knock-offs, some of them have created their own McQueen riffs. The lines are sort of like a runway.”

The McQueen show was originally scheduled to close on July 31, but the Met announced on Tuesday it would extend the show by a week.

"Met Mondays with McQueen" kicks off this Monday, and gets visitors into the exhibit from 9:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M. (Entries are on the half hour.) $50 Monday tickets include a free exhibit audio guide. Special Monday viewing hours were also offered during The Met’s popular “Manet/Velázquez: The French Taste for Spanish Painting” and “Leonardo da Vinci, Master Draftsman” exhibitions in 2003.

McQueen’s artistic abilities, his untimely death and Kate Middleton’s House of McQueen royal wedding dress have all been cited as factors generating buzz around the exhibition. The sheer amount of work on view — over 100 McQueen ensembles and 70 accessories created over 19 years of his career — has also drawn crowds. Holzer credited the show's success to “the brilliance of the installation … the quality of the material, and the originality that’s really carrying the day.”

On May 20, the College Group at The Met hosted “McQueen For A Night,” an event that celebrated the designer with film and music. Over 800 people from area design schools participated in a fashion design contest at the event, with one of the coveted prizes being an internship with The House of McQueen. On May 3, nearly 800 guests, many of them wearing McQueen, attending the Costume Institute's gala celebrating the British designer.

Although museums have fought hard to keep attendance up since 9/11 and since the recession took hold, Holzer said he was confident that The Met had gotten over the hump. In 2010, 5.2 million people passed through the museum's doors, and more are expected this year.

“Happily, we’ve produced an exhibition schedule that seems to appeal to people from around the world and from around the corner,” he said.

Other successful exhibits in the city have been this year’s Van Cleef & Arpels "Set in Style" jewelry exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt and MoMA's 2009-10 Tim Burton exhibition.

6/3/11 Update: The Metropolitan Museum released a press release on Friday saying that as of July 1, it would increase its recommended admission prices to $25 for adults, $17 for seniors and $12 for students due to "daunting, ongoing budgetary challenges." Although anyone can pay what they want to enter the Met's collection, the current recommended rates are $20, $15 and $10 respectively. The suggested increases mark the first time the museum has raised rates in five years. Entry for children remains free.

7/12/11 Update: The Met announced on Monday that it had once again extended the viewing hours for its record-breaking exhibit “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.” From August 4 through 7, the Costume Institute exhibition will remain open to the public until 9 P.M. The museum will also open one hour early for museum members daily (except Mondays) beginning on July 22. The Met Mondays with McQueen ticket program, which offers the public special viewing hours on Mondays, will continue through August 1. The exhibition has drawn nearly 450,000 visitors so far.