When The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced last week that it will start charging a mandatory admission fee for out-of-towners, people understandably freaked out. The museum has had a pay-what-you-wish policy since 1970, but starting March 1, it will charge a mandatory $25 for admission.
The fee applies to anyone without proof of New York residency. If you moved here from California five years ago but still haven’t gotten around to updating your driver’s license, you may want to do that now. You could also use an IDNYC card, a library card, a bank statement or a student ID to prove your residency. (New Jersey and Connecticut students are welcome, as well.)
The reason for the big change? The Met cites a decline in visitors willing to pay the full suggested price and an increase in traffic over the past 13 years, which has contributed to its $15 million budget deficit.
But New Yorkers are not happy. An online petition against the admission fee was recently started by Aarti Kelapure, and it already has more than 15,000 supporters. Though the petition would not necessarily result in any changes to the museum's policy, it is a way to publicly make your thoughts on the matter known.
The president and CEO of the Met, Daniel H. Weiss, responded in a statement to Artnet: “In the interest of accuracy, it is important to remind Aarti Kelapure and the others who have signed the petition that The Met is not now free, and it hasn’t been for five decades. Rather, the pay-as-you wish policy is intended to allow members of the public to contribute what they can to support this great institution. Perhaps the problem we are facing now is that people assume that The Met is free when, in fact, it depends on the support of its visitors to open its doors every day.”