It’s official: the Metropolitan Museum of Art will soon charge a mandatory admission fee. The fee will apply to all visitors from outside of New York State (except for students from New Jersey and Connecticut), and is set to go into effect on March 1, 2018.
Those who can provide proof of residence within New York state (or student IDs in the case of those enrolled at New York schools) can continue to follow the current suggested admission model. (How, exactly, that proof of residence will be properly implemented has not yet been ironed out.)
Daniel Weiss, the museum’s president and CEO, told the New York Times that those without some form of state identification (for example IDNYC, library cards, current bills) won’t be turned away, but asked to bring it next time, and out-of-state residents won’t have a separate check-in line. Weiss said the museum will re-evaluate its strategy following the implementation in March.
The change has been in the works for some time now; amid budget woes, the museum announced its intention to enforce mandatory charges in April last year. In May, the museum officially submitted its proposal to the city, and now the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs has signed off on it.
“This updated admissions policy will give the Museum a solid foundation to continue to grow its programming and engage New Yorkers from all corners of the city and visitors from around the world, while providing a unique opportunity to direct public resources to underserved communities throughout the five boroughs,” said Tom Finkelpearl, the commissioner of the DCA, in a statement.
At present, the Met gets $26 million in funds from the city each year. About $15 million of that goes toward utility costs, and that will continue to stay the same under the new admission policy. The remaining $11 million will gradually reduce over the coming years depending on how the new revenue system works out for the Met; those funds will instead be directed to cultural institutions in underserved communities in NYC.
The decision to enforce mandatory admission was largely based on declining revenue in recent years. At present, only 17 percent of adults pay the full $25 price, which is a 73 percent decline from 2004. Admission fees generate about 14 percent of the Met’s $305 million operating budget—that will go up to 16 or 17 percent under the new policy.
Holland Cotter and Roberta Smith, the Times’s art critics, questioned whether this was enough of an increase to warrant the mandatory admission, and generally derided the museum’s decision.
The museum contends that it does not receive the level of support other major government-funded institutions do like the Smithsonian, and that its new policy is in line with museums like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
The new policy will impact 31 percent of the museum’s visitors, according to the Met. About 41 percent pay no fees since they are members of the museum or are children under 12; 14 percent get discounted rates as part of the City Pass program; 30 percent are from the city, and the remaining are from within the state but outside the city.
The suggested admission policy was created in 1970, and prior to that, the museum followed a variety of standards including charging fees on certain days or for special exhibits. The new fee policy will match the current suggested donation guideline which is $25 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $12 for students. In some marginally good news, admission will be good for three days, so visitors can have a better chance of visiting the Cloisters and the Met Breuer on one ticket.