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How the Yayoi Kusama Exhibit Is Inspiring the Food at MFAH Restaurant

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston is celebrating its permanent installation of the Japanese artist’s Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity exhibition with food

Seared scallops over a pumpkin puree with microgreens and black croutons at Le Jardinier.
Le Jardinier is translating Museum of Fine Art Houston’s most anticipated installation into a dish.
Sean Nash

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston will permanently welcome Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s famous installation, Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, starting on Wednesday, September 21, and in celebration, on-site restaurant Le Jardinier and Cafe Leonelli are offering some artsy food to match the room of infinite, shimmering lights.

Putting a spin on a classic French 75, Le Jardinier’s head bartender Maxime Labesse has created the black sparkling wine Infinity cocktail using Japanese gin, lemon, sugar, cynar, and salers. The drink is also infused with activated charcoal to make it black in color and edible gold glitter to resemble the shimmering lights in the installation’s room.

In homage to Kusama and her internationally renowned signature pumpkin installation, Le Jardinier chef Felipe Botero has crafted an entree with pan-seared scallops, pumpkin coulis, and black croutons.

The cafe, helmed by chef Heather Kowalski, will also partake, selling $5 white chocolate-covered sable biscuit cookies that resemble pumpkins.

White chocolate-covered pumpkin cookies decorated with dark chocolate on a plate from Cafe Leonelli.
Cafe Leonelli’s pumpkin cookies are inspired by artist Yayoi Kusama’s signature pumpkin installations, which have been displayed around the world.
Sean Nash

The food might come in handy seeing as though the museum is already anticipating that the exhibit will generate long lines. Though the installation is accessible on a first-come, first-serve basis with a general admission or special exhibition ticket to the museum, the MFAH’s website states that in the case of high demand, some guests will receive timed tickets to visit the exhibit later in the day. To avoid a wait, guests are encouraged to check the installation first thing or earlier in the day before exploring the rest of the museum.

Museum-goers will experience the first-floor exhibit by stepping into a room and standing on a platform. The room, which can welcome up to three people at a time, goes dark after the door closes. Then shimmering lights, reflected on a series of mirrors, illuminate the space, before the light again disappear, and the installation begins again.

Kusama created her first infinity room in 1965, using mirror reflections to create an illusion of “infinite distance.” On her 80th birthday in 2009, Kusama created the Aftermath, which first debuted in New York. The artist has since created more than 20 infinity mirror rooms that have been displayed around the world.

Cafe Leonelli

5500 Main Street, , TX 77004 (713) 714-3014 Visit Website

Le Jardinier

151 Northeast 41st Street, , FL 33137 (305) 402-9060 Visit Website