This week’s focus in “Room for Debate,” an excellent segment of the NYT online, is MoMA’s 25% ticket price increase. (I know that the price hike and MoMA’s purchase of the Folk Art Museum are likely unrelated but the $31 million spent on the AFAM building has to come from somewhere, right? What’s the deal!?)
Anyway, the NYT has assembled five museuminati to argue for their differing perspectives on the new admission fee. Most were balanced– admitting that the raised fee would put some visitors off but acknowledging MoMA’s need to pay for operating expenses.
Kym Rice, director of the Museum Studies Program at George Washington University:
Who can really blame the Museum of Modern Art for raising its admission price to $25 from $20? Even with budget cutting, running a world-class art museum is an expensive proposition.
Bruce Altshuler, director of the Museum Studies at NYU:
When I heard about the price increase, I was appalled, as were the people around me. It is admittedly an emotional and perhaps unrealistic reaction. But our unanimous response is driven in part by the feeling that financial calculations and market opportunities should not trump social responsibilities.
Eileen Kinsella, editor of ARTnewsletter and contributor to ARTnews:
There is no question that MoMA’s new ticket price will give museum-goers pause, no matter how extraordinary the Picassos, Pollocks and van Goghs inside. On the other hand, with a little extra effort, visitors can cut or avoid the cost altogether. Online ticket buyers receive a discount, and there is no processing fee. CUNY and SUNY students are entitled to free admission with valid identification. And at least once a week, visitors can take advantage of Target-sponsored Free Fridays, when admission is waived during evening hours.
Vera Zolberg, professor of sociology at the New School:
Many people have expressed outrage at the Museum of Modern Art’s new admission price. But in a city where cinemas charge around $12 and Broadway theaters charge anywhere from $50 to $200, MoMa’s $25 admission ticket doesn’t seem so bad. For one thing, with just one ticket you can spend an entire day in a spectacular exhibition space, and even see a film or two.
Stephanie Cotela Tanner, the editor of ArtSmacked.com:
Raising the admission price is likely to put people off and be a step backward in this transformation — regressing toward the time when a museum seemed to be a sacred space, set apart from the greater community.
Be sure to check back in to Room for Debate to look at reader’s comments throughout the week. They’ll probably be more passionate than the selected contributors.
Like this one! from “sc”:
“Running a world-class art museum is an expensive proposition.” Goodness – enough with the world-class fluff already. It’s such an over-used term. Like “luxury living.” Ridiculous constructs of our empty consumer age. We (the little people) should be able to view art at a reasonable cost. But a 25% increase in the admission fee is, well, highway robbery. And this on top of a base fee that is already astoundingly high. In NYC at least there is an alternative: hundreds of small galleries throughout many neighborhoods. Spend a little time to plan (with the help of the Web) and you can view great (and not so great) works of art, esp. of unknown artists. It’s more fun, free, and you’ll avoid the chattering crowds.
Monger <3′s museum discourse!!!
Beloved conceptual artist Ai Weiwei was detained at the Beijing airport a week ago today and remains in police custody. Part of the recent Communist crack-down on reform-minded dissenters, Mr. Ai’s detention has roused international arts institutions to organize on his behalf. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is leading the charge with the support of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Tate in London, and the American Association of Art Museum Directors, among others.
“By using Ai Wei Wei’s favored medium of ’social sculpture,’ we hope to hasten the release of our visionary friend and artist,’’ the Guggenheim Foundation said in a statement on its Web site. The foundation and the museums said in a letter posted with the petition on Facebook and Twitter on Friday addressed to the Minister of Culture of the People’s Republic of China, Cai Wu: “We members of the international arts community express our concern for Ai’s freedom and disappointment in China’s reluctance to live up to its promise to nurture creativity and independent thought, the keys to ‘soft power’ and cultural influence.’’
–From The New York Times