Monday, October 02, 2006

Free museums? Why? Paying $20 to get in is, like, our birthright

So two years ago, MoMA reopened in Manhattan with a meaty $20 admission fee. For its part, the Philadelphia Museum of Art liked what it saw — after all, they’d already raised their ticket price for special shows (like Degas and the Dance and Manet and the Sea) to $20 back in ‘03.

Since then, there’s been a few folks who think that $20 is a bit steep to see a collection of art supposedly meant to enlighten the public. (Silly liberals — fine, you can have the museum on Sunday mornings between 6:45 and 7:30 a.m. But you have to be gone by 8 o'clock sharp — the museum needs to get rid of any evidence that you were ever there before reopening. Kay-bye.)
As many of the world’s most notable museums raise their admission prices — in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has followed the Modern’s lead and is now asking for a donation of $20 for an adult — the cultural institutions of Baltimore and a few other cities are going in the opposite direction. Both the Walters Art Museum, left, and the Baltimore Museum of Art will be free to the public as of today.
Whaaaa? Free? But how are you going to keep the undesirables out if you don’t charge exorbitant ticket prices?
“The museum’s mission is to bring art and people together and we were finding the cost was an impediment to fulfilling that mission,” said Gary Vikan, director of the Walters Art Museum, adding that his institution is following an example set by major museums in Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Dayton, all of whom have stopped charging admission. “Happily, they found it led to a more diverse audience, as well as more community participation.”
Diversity? Um, good luck with all that.

And in Philadelphia? Well, Center City Arts and Culture Fest is coming later this month, with free tickets to museums, theaters, concerts, etc. But not so fast Harry Handout — tickets are only available online and in advance… so good luck.

And what do you know — they’re basically sold out after one whole day of availability.

Thank you, mister digital divide.

Related:
If it’s free, can you really call it art? [NYTimes]
CultureFest so festive, it’s conveniently sold out before anyone even heard of it — suggesting they really went overboard with the number of tickets offered [Phillyfunguide.com]

1 comment:

Lawrence said...

It's a troublesome balance. Where is the money for art and theatre and Orchestra's and jaz? Where is the money so common folk without the means can still enjoy the "arts"?