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The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s New Policy, a Failure for a Public Institution

This is the first post of two that will explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new admission policy. Each post takes the opposite stance about the policy. 


Starting in March 2018, the Metropolitan Museum of Art said goodbye to its “pay as you wish” policy. The new general admission fee is $25, which is considered a huge bump for a museum that did not have any mandatory admission fees before. The current policy draws a boarder between New Yorkers and outsiders because the museum will continue to remain free for the New York residents who could provide identifications. A museum that has an amazing national reputation, and has been one of the main points of attraction for tourists is making an indirect statement by saying this museum only belongs to New Yorkers. Limiting the geography that the museum is serving has consequences for their fundraising effort.

Museums like other nonprofits are highly dependent on their individual donors, and governmental grants. When a museum considers itself only a local attraction for the state of New York, it will automatically loses its chance to get donations from outside of that state. Another thing to consider is that people donate their collections to the museums to be displayed for a large number of people. They donate because they believe that museums are accessible cultural locations, so the art could be appreciated by all. The admission fee of $25 will definitely put the museum out of reach for students, large families, and the working class.

An important factor that all performing and visual arts organizations are currently focusing on is not only increasing their number of attendance, but to have a diversified audience base. Certain ethnicities and people from certain socio-economic levels who should be targeted by non profits to attend such places will not have any presence because they would not be able to afford it. The museum will certainly fail its responsibility for being accessible. Also, museums are educational places, especially for children to learn about the culture of arts. Families who are visiting New York could find much more affordable activities for their children. There is also this tradition that the museums have been free or have had very low ticket prices. The Met would be competing against other local museums or would lose some tourists to other forms of entertainment. This way the Met is indirectly pushing some families towards other entertainments, which those might not have as great of a cultural and educational impact on their audience as a museum would have.

The Met is not staying true to its role as a public and cultural institution. The Met could find ways to generate more revenue through seeking individual donors and asking them to fund the admission fees specifically. Overall, the Met decision for having a high general admission fee does not seem to prove favorable in the future both for the museum, and those who would have visited it.

-Sinella

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Sarah Cortell Vandersypen

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