Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times reports that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has filed a proposal to charge out-of-state visitors admission—a gesture the museum was only mulling over last month. The museum is partially supported by state taxpayers and currently has a “suggested” entrance fee for all visitors. The matter of this fee, however, was resolved last year after a class action lawsuit was brought against the Met for displaying misleading signage that said paying full-price admission was “recommended”—wording, according to the suit, which seemed to obscure the museum’s real policy of “pay what you wish.” Under the museum’s new proposal, the “suggested” fee will only be made available to New York state and city residents.
The proposal will have to be approved by Mayor Bill de Blasio since the city owns the Met building. Asked for a comment on the proposal, New York’s commissioner of cultural affairs, Tom Finkelpearl, said, “We will review it carefully. The city is committed to working with the Met to ensure that its unrivaled collection and programming remain accessible to all New Yorkers.” Andrew G. Celli, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs from the 2016 lawsuit, said, “The museum should be accessible to all people of every economic level. It is unfortunate that the museum’s leadership feels that it has to ration its availability. There must be a better way—and I urge the Museum’s leadership, and the city’s, to find it.”
The museum is doing what it can to handle its $15 million deficit, which has led to a hiring freeze, and a delay on building its $600 million modern and contemporary art wing, which was supposed to be completed by 2020 in time for the museum’s 150th anniversary. Currently, the Met’s “suggested” entrance fee for adults is twenty-five dollars.