NYT Examines MoMA Admissions Price Increase

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.

Image via Art Knowledge News

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!!!


2 Comments on “NYT Examines MoMA Admissions Price Increase”

  1. Bruce says:

    Raising admission fees is a response to the need to fund all that it takes to operate any museum. Those who want a reduced fee or no fee have to find the money to operate the museum somewhere. That somewhere used to be government support for many small and mid-sized museums operated by local and state governments or from government grants. Unfortunately, those days are gone- now, government supported institutions are on the street rasing funds and implementing fees (like admissions). The times have changed- what has not changed is the model for operating museums and the model for funding them. The philanthropic community, government and museums should come together to look at and then change the funding paradigm.
    WY Museum Director

  2. Absolutely! I would be interested to see museums use more crowd-sourced funding structures (something like Kickstarter?). Patrons could engage with and directly support the exhibitions/programs/experiences in which they are most interested.

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