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Photograph: Marc Hope

The Met will soon start charging a mandatory admission fee

By
Howard Halle
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In a move sure to cause a kerfuffle, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced today that as of March 1, people living outside of New York State will be obliged to pay $25 to enter the museum, making what had previously been a suggested admission fee mandatory. As Time Out New York posted back in April, the new policy is meant to ameliorate The Met’s $15 million dollar budget deficit, which has led to layoffs and delays of expansion projects.

Part of the problem has been that as a city-owned institution, The Met has had a pay-what-you-wish arrangement with a suggested entry fee of $25—though in recent years, it has more or less misled or misdirected visitors into thinking that the $25 admission wasn’t “suggested” at all. (Also, purchasing tickets online automatically meant that you paid the complete $25 fare.) Still, people understand what’s going on, and so The Met has seen a substantial drop-off in the number of museum-goers willing to pay the full amount—a decline, according to The New York Times, from 63 percent to 17 percent over the past 13 years. Meanwhile, the number of people visiting The Met has soared from 4.7 to 7 million during the same period.

You may ask, What’s the big deal?, since almost all of NYC’s other museums (MoMA, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, etc.) require that you pay to get in. But doing so selectively, as The Met is slated to do, is sure to create headaches. The plan for now is to enforce the policy by requiring proof of New York State residency in order to pay what you wish. That may be harder than it sounds, since having the most obvious form of proof—a NYS Driver’s License—doesn’t apply in all cases, especially in New York City where a lot of people don’t drive. Also, plenty of New York residents have out-of-state drivers licenses. And while citizens of Gotham may apply for an IDNYC card, residents beyond the five boroughs would be out of luck on that score.

It's also not unreasonable to assume longer waits at the ticket desks because of people arguing that they live in New York—whether they actually do or not. It would be wise, then, to plan future visits to The Met accordingly.

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