Opinion: Pay What You Wish?

For your interest…


One of the best and most famous museums in the world, New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (also known as “The Met”), has begun to charge a $25 admission fee for non-New Yorkers.  This is a shocking change, as for over 50 years, the Met has been pay-what-you-wish for all visitors.  The $25 fee suggested is what was listed on their website and on location as a donation, instead of an actual fee.  The Met, despite being the second most visited art museum in the world (only after Paris’ famed Musee du Louvre), has struggled financially recently, especially after opening the Met Breuer, a modern branch on the Upper East Side.  (The mandatory fee does not apply to the Met Breuer or the Cloisters Museum.)  Even still, part of what makes the Met so popular is the affordability, with the pay-what-you-wish policy.  Needless to say, there must be some sort of problem with that if they’re going to reverse it.


The problem isn’t that it’s pay what you wish, and I don’t blame the people at the Met for installing this policy.  The problem is that people will pay $1 for admission.  Go on TripAdvisor or any similar website, and you’ll see plenty of people suggesting to pay $1 to get in.  Personally, I think that’s extremely selfish.  The quality of the Met’s collection can not be understated, and experiencing it firsthand is an incredible experience.  It’s worth more than a dollar.  The Met is undeniably one of the world’s greatest museums, and I can easily say it’s the best museum I’ve ever been to.  Now, it is true that many museums around the country are free.  For instance, the all of the museums on the National Mall in Washington are free.  But that doesn’t excuse the fact that the suggested admission is $25, yet some people give one.  Now, for those who usually wouldn’t be able to afford admission, that’s totally acceptable.  Everyone else, on the other hand, has no excuse.  And it’s also true that museum food is expensive, but that applies everywhere you go.  That, and there are vendors lined up outside the museum, like there are at any tourist attraction in New York.


There must be another solution.  The only museum in Philadelphia that has a pay-what-you-wish policy is the Rodin Museum.  They suggest $10.  (See article for more information)  While the Rodin isn’t Philly’s greatest Art Museum, the fact that it is pay what you wish is good, especially for a small collection like that of Rodin.  The Met, on the other hand, as stated earlier, is one of the greatest and largest in the world.  Even still, $25 is a lot for a museum, especially if you’re travelling with a group.  What the Met should be doing is making a minimum, something like $10, for the main building on 5th Avenue.  That way, you won’t have greedy travelers who try and get in for next to nothing, but you’re not charging $25 to anyone coming from out of state.  Personally, I think the Met Fifth Avenue is totally worth the $25.  But having the option to pay less if needs be is good.


The fact that the fee applies only to non-New Yorkers is ridiculous, because New York is across the river from New Jersey and a short drive from Connecticut.  That would be like if the Philadelphia Museum of Art charged more for people who live 4 miles away in New Jersey.  It is also worth noting that a lot of major art museums around the country, including the Art Institute of Chicago and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, do charge $25.


With the way things have been going financially at the Met, it’s unsurprising that they would begin charging admission like that.  And who can blame them, if people pay so little for admission?  Admission fees aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but people should definitely not pay so little for a museum of that caliber.