Art, in all its forms, is often used as an educational tool for personal expression and political or societal statements. It is found in popular cultures of different countries and eras.
Most art museums in major cities around the world acquire exhibits featuring works of art from a multitude of backgrounds to share with the local community and tourists. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met, in Manhattan has been a staple of education in the city since 1870.
The museum enforced the admissions policy by suggesting a $25 donation, but allowing patrons to pay as they wish. Essentially, admission was free unless a participant could and wished to contribute. According to the New York Times, this will no longer be the case.
Starting March 1, the Met will charge a $25 entrance fee for anyone who doesn’t have ID that proves their residence is in New York State. While the concept of paid admission makes financial sense and aligns with most other major museum policies, the fairly high price creates a barrier between who can experience the museum and who cannot.
The Met is not solely responsible. The policy change is simply a sign of the financial times, aligned with the Louvre and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Very few museums still have free admission.
According to their respective websites, the Louvre in Paris charges an entry fee of around $18, the Philadelphia Museum of Art charges a fee of $20, and the British Museum in London is free to the public for an additional fee. for certain exhibitions.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a pay-as-you-go policy on the first Sunday of each month and from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. every Wednesday. The Smithsonian Institute museums have a donation-based admission fee. The Smithsonian is largely privately funded, but still receives federal appropriations.
Revenue has become a necessity for public attractions to keep utilities such as heating, air conditioning and lighting afloat. According to the Times, the Met currently receives $26 million from New York because it is in a city-owned building unlike its contemporaries – the Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art.
Funds for arts, culture and education are often among the first to cut public spending. Financial support has not been sufficient as the museum has fallen into deficit over the years which has contributed to the current admissions decision.
In May 2017, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration had responsibility for assessing and redistributing the $178 million allocated to arts and cultural institutions in the city, according to the Times.
While the organizations were understandably eager to see if their financial support would be cut, it was clear that there simply wasn’t enough money allocated to its budget. And it should not be the decision of the government to choose which institutions will remain open and which will close.
Ideally, arts and culture budgets would reflect their importance, but this is not the case in the current financial context.
Since there is a clear need for increased revenue, museums and archaeological sites around the world should not be expected to allow free access to their sites, especially in poorer countries or smaller exhibits. It is often their main source of income to maintain the pitches. However, the price should be set at a lower rate making the sites more accessible.
An admission fee of, say, $5 to $15 would create revenue for museum maintenance while allowing all exhibits to be more accessible to the public.
The Met is an oft-visited New York cultural institution because of its cemented place in the Manhattan community and its ability to educate all members of the public. An individual should not be denied access to public cultural education because they cannot afford the admission fees.
Kara Fesolovich is a junior major in history, political science, and classical and ancient Mediterranean studies and a columnist for The Daily Collegian. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @karafesolovich.