An online petition demanding that the Metropolitan Museum of Art “remain free for all” has earned more than fourteen thousand signatures. The petition, published on the social-networking website Care2, is a response to the Met’s controversial announcement last week that a new admissions policy will go into effect on March 1, requiring non–New Yorkers to pay a fixed entry fee.
“The Met is a public good, housing historical and cultural artifacts that should be free for everyone to experience,” wrote Aarti Kelapure, the petition’s creator. Kelapure believes the Met’s change will negatively impact students and families unable to pay the fee. “Please sign this petition urging the Met to reverse this classist and nativist policy and remain free for all.” As of Thursday, January 11, the petition was six hundred signatures shy of its goal of fifteen thousand.
The museum began to reconsider its current pay-as-you-wish admissions model, which was implemented in 1970, after revealing that it was facing a $10 million deficit in April 2016. While attendance has been on the rise, there has also been a steep decline in the percentage of adults who pay the Met’s full $25 suggested price. The museum projects that the updated policy will cover an additional 2 to 3 percent of its overall budget.
Dan Weiss, the president and CEO of the Met, responded to the petition 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,” Weiss said. “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.”