There are several reasons for people to visit, especially from out of state. The collection of artistic works is all but unparalleled in the country, the culture is wonderful and the admission fee? Well, until now, it has been “pay what you can.”
Because of this rule, fewer than one-in-five visitors to the museum actually paid full freight to enter last year. That’s a massive drop from in the past, as back in 2004, when about 63 percent paid the full $25 entrance fee. Now, though, everyone will have to pay.
Beginning on March 1, 2018, everyone who enters will be expected to pay the $25 fee, because, the museum says, it needs the stability to keep things going. CEO Daniel Weiss issued a statement that read, in part:
“(The Met) is determined that the Museum will remain accessible to as many visitors as possible while it also thrives as a financially stable institution…”
The museum had not charged mandatory admission since 1970, and the same pay-if-you-can policy will remain for NY residents, as well as students from Connecticut and New Jersey. Everyone else will need to pony up the cash.
Well, not exactly everyone…
Kids under 12 will still get in free, and out-of-state senior citizens will have a reduced fee of $17. Weiss and the other Museum employees hope the fees will not stop tourists from flocking to what has been one of the city’s most popular destinations for generations.
And, really, it’s not a huge change. The Met is a singular experience and very few if any of its direct competition offers free admission. Then there’s the fact that most visitors to New York are already expecting to spend a good deal of cash just getting around and seeing the sights.
If they have to pay $25 to get into the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Guggenheim Museum, why not pay for the Met as well? That’s the logic of Weiss and others, and it seems sound enough.
While we won’t know until this time next year if the new policy is really having a marked impact on visits, there are a great many things the museum could do, beginning now, to counter any potential downturn in attendance. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.