The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) presents “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty,” on view from Oct. 11, 2014 - April 26, 2015. Organized as part of the global icon’s 40th anniversary celebrations, “Hello!” is the first large-scale Hello Kitty museum retrospective in the United States. The exhibition examines the colorful history of Hello Kitty and her influence on popular culture. “Hello!” includes 40 years of Hello Kitty artifacts, including rare and unique items from the Sanrio archives, and 40 contemporary artworks inspired by Hello Kitty and her world. To coincide with the exhibit, JANM is hosting panels, seminars, screenings and special events.
The first floor of “Hello!” is curated by Christine Yano, PhD, author of “Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek Across the Pacific,” and features memorabilia from throughout Hello Kitty's four-decade history. Jamie Rivadeneira, founder and owner of the Los Angeles pop culture boutique JapanLA, curates the Hello Kitty-inspired artworks on the second floor.
Hello Kitty first appeared on a small, clear vinyl coin purse that was priced for less than a dollar. Only one of the original purses is known to exist, and it’s kept in a secure vault at Sanrio’s headquarters in Japan. The legendary 1975 coin purse was on display at the first-ever Hello Kitty Con, which took place at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA on Oct. 30 - Nov. 2, 2014. Many versions of that first coin purse have been created over the years, including a Sephora makeup bag inspired by the iconic piece. A replica of the original purse is on display in the “Hello!” exhibit at JANM.
For Hello Kitty’s 35th anniversary, superstar singer Lady Gaga was photographed by Markus Klinko and Indrani wearing custom Hello Kitty outfits. One of them was a Hello Kitty plush dress styled by GK Reid, which is on display at the JANM exhibition.
Dozens of artists from L.A. and around the world have created artworks for the exhibition that were inspired by Hello Kitty. One of the most memorable is “Super Space Titan Kitty,” a giant statue created by Florida-based Colin Christian. The statue depicts Hello Kitty as a futuristic mecha anime character, complete with red bow, pink trim and stars. Another standout is Simone Legno’s “Kittypatra,” an Egyptian-influenced statue of Hello Kitty seated on a throne.
"Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is a specially ticketed exhibition. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for youth ages 6–17, and free for children ages 5 and under. All admissions are based on timed entry and no re-entry is allowed. Purchasing tickets in advance is strongly encouraged.
Exhibition tickets for Oct. 11 to Dec. 31, 2014 are on sale now. Tickets for "Hello!" in 2015 will be available starting Nov. 24, 2014. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.janm.org/exhibits/hellokitty/tickets.