NEW YORK, NY October 21, 2018
The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today that Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination attracted 1,659,647 visitors to The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters during its run from May 10 to October 8, making it the Museum’s most visited exhibition, exceeding the prior number one show, Treasures of Tutankhamun (1978), which had 1,360,957 visitors. More than 1.43 million people saw Heavenly Bodies at The Met Fifth Avenue, and 228,737 at The Met Cloisters.
In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2018, The Met welcomed 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, which brought in more than 700,000 visitors during its run from November 13, 2017, through February 12, 2018, making it the 10th most attended show in the Museum’s history.
Previous Costume Institute exhibitions, which are among The Met’s most attended shows, include Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty (2011), which had 661,509 visitors; China: Through the Looking Glass (2015), with 815,992 visitors; and Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology(2016), with 752,995 visitors. All four exhibitions were curated by Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute.
Heavenly Bodies is the largest exhibition that either The Costume Institute or The Met has ever mounted, covering 60,000 square feet in 25 galleries. Organized by Bolton in collaboration with The Met’s Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, the exhibition spanned The Met Fifth Avenue’s medieval galleries, Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries for Byzantine Art, part of The Robert Lehman Wing (this section closed September 9), and the Anna Wintour Costume Center, as well as The Met Cloisters in northern Manhattan.
The Met is grateful to Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman, and Versace for lead sponsorship of the exhibition, and to Condé Nast for additional support.
The thematic exhibition presented a dialogue between fashion and masterworks of medieval art in The Met collection to examine fashion’s ongoing engagement with the traditions of Catholicism. A group of papal robes and accessories from the Vatican served as the cornerstone of the exhibition, highlighting the enduring influence of liturgical vestments on designers. The 42 ecclesiastical masterworks came from the Sistine Chapel sacristy, and many of them had never been seen outside the Vatican.