Beginning in March, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will charge you $25 for entry - but only if you don’t live in New York City. This announcement certainly enraged many who believe the Big Apple's iconic institution’s staggering wealth should make access to its prized possessions a lot cheaper - if not free.
When The Met introduced the pay-what-you-wish policy in 1970, everyone praised the museum's adaptive admission system. Back then, Richard Nixon was the president and Elvis Presley was still alive - we're now in 2018 and it appears that some changes are right around the corner.
Now, Care2, world’s largest social network dedicated to bringing positive changes across the globe, launched a petition asking the museum to reverse its decision to start charging out-of-state visitors.
The bottom line of the new admission system is that visitors from outside New York state will have to pay a fee of $25, while in-state residents can still use the same policy from 1970.
In a statement announcing the new changes, The Met explained that the admission price change was necessary "in order to sustain its mission for future generations and to remain an accessible source of inspiration to all."
The institution has reportedly faced many financial struggles over the years and those running it decided that the time came for the public to ease this burden.
The MET’s president and CEO, Daniel Weiss, was not surprised with the backlash from the public, but he still stood strongly behind the decision:
People have become very comfortable with the idea of the pay-what-you-wish policy – but the policy has effectively failed and, therefore, needs to change.
In the past 13 years, the attendance grew from 4.7 million visitors to 7 million - however, the museum saw a huge decline in the number of visitors who pay the suggested amount of $25, from 63 percent to just 17 percent.
After the upcoming changes became a thing of public knowledge, many were outraged - The New York Times published a piece titled The New Pay Policy Is a Mistake, Jezebel’s Aimée Lutkin said The Met Should Be Fuc*ing Free, The New York Post stated the museum has never had the right to charge admission in the first place and Alexandra Schwartz said the new policy diminishes New York City as a whole.
However, Care2's petition aims to truly confront and ultimately prevent the impending changes. The petition's author Aarti Kelapure, who currently lives in San Francisco, explained how this is a classist and nativist policy, and that The Met is a public good housing historical and cultural artifacts that should be free for everyone to experience.
At the end of the day, he explains, The Met is supposed to sustain itself through private donations and taxpayer money, not through the $25 admission fee that immediately makes the museum inaccessible for countless visitors.
We are certainly not deaf to the museum's reasoning and we understand that running an institution on that level is financially exhausting - however, just two months ago, The Met received its largest donor gift of $80 million from museum trustee Florence Irving!
It is estimated that the new admission policy will bring in $6-11 million on an annual level, equivalent to just 14% of the museum’s $305 million operational budget, which seems a bit feeble. For that reason, we'll have to side with the anti-admission petition on this one. Ellen Handy, a professor at the City College of New York’s art department, probably put it best:
The staggering wealth of the museum’s trustees and supporters makes it unseemly that the financial instability should become the burden of the public, which the museum serves.
Featured image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All images via Wikimedia Commons.