The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is proud to announce its record-breaking success with the three-month Frida Kahlo exhibition, which closed on September 28, 2008. Attendance during the show was the museum’s highest ever, totaling 412,244—an average of 4,530 visitors per day. The record was previously held by the 2003 Marc Chagall exhibition, which brought a total of 363,641 to SFMOMA.
“We couldn’t be more satisfied with the success of Frida Kahlo, and we’re proud to have presented her highest-quality work” states SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra. “The exhibition exceeded our expectations on many fronts and engaged the Bay Area community, attracting a wide range of visitors. The popularity of this exhibition is a testament to Frida Kahlo’s tremendous talent as a modern painter and to her prominence as a cultural figure.”
The popularity of SFMOMA’s presentation of the exhibition also exceeded that of its two previous stops in the United States combined: 115,405 visitors attended Frida Kahlo at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (October 27, 2007 through January 20, 2008), and 194,322 people viewed the exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (February 20 through May 18, 2008).
SFMOMA broke another significant record as a result of the exhibition: 22 percent of visitors to Frida Kahlo were from the Latino community. As it has been an ongoing objective of the museum to create and bolster long-term relationships with Latino visitors, SFMOMA considers this new record to be a highly significant achievement. In preparation for Frida Kahlo, the museum implemented a comprehensive plan that involved reaching out to Latino media outlets in the region and building connections with community organizations, business leaders, chambers of commerce, and individuals. A Spanish-language marketing and communications campaign was also key.
During the run of Frida Kahlo, SFMOMA hosted more than 350 private and 183 docent tours, and rented 63,877 multimedia tours. A timed-ticketing system was implemented for the exhibition—a first for the museum—and due to the system’s efficiency, most visitors waited less than ten minutes to enter the exhibition upon arrival.
The SFMOMA MuseumStore also enjoyed great success during Frida Kahlo, when it generated the largest sales volume in the history of the store. More than 150,000 Kahlo-related products were sold—approximately 4,000 pieces of handcrafted jewelry, 27,000 books (including the exhibition catalogue), and 120,000 various objects, including postcards sets, posters, hand-embroidered blouses, hand-painted pottery, hand-loomed rebozos (shawls), and artisan-crafted images of Frida Kahlo. In preparation for the exhibition, buyers from the MuseumStore traveled to Mexico to purchase a variety of traditional Mexican folk art and jewelry from local artists and artisans. Many of these works were directly influenced by the life and art of Frida Kahlo. All proceeds from MuseumStore sales support SFMOMA, making the museum’s exhibitions, educational programming, and outreach activities possible.
SFMOMA wishes to acknowledge Contemporánea for their role in our outreach efforts to the Latino community.