By Jordi Lippe-McGraw. Photos: Alamy.
While there’s no such thing as a free lunch, for a long time, there has been such a thing as a free, world-class museum in New York City. For a century, The Metropolitan Museum of Art was free to all visitors, and only introduced a suggested contribution in the early 1970s. But, now as the popular museum faces a reported multimillion-dollar budget deficit, the landmark's leaders and city officials are exploring ways to get out of debt, including one non-New Yorkers will hate: Charging admission for visitors from outside of the state.
According to the New York Times, the Met is considering charging a mandatory admission fee for visitors to the Big Apple, who comprise 63 percent of the museum's yearly audience.
“We have spoken to the Metropolitan Museum about the possibility of changing its admission structure—not for New Yorkers, but for out-of-town visitors,” Tom Finkelpearl, the city’s commissioner of cultural affairs, told the New York Times. “Should we receive a formal proposal, we will consider it.”
The mandatory fee discussion comes on the heels of a number of cost-cutting measures, including staff lay-offs, delayed construction of a new wing, the Met’s director Thomas P. Campbell resigning, and the reduction of annual exhibitions from 60 to 40. The “suggested” adult admissions fee of $25 generated about $39 million 2016, but that barely made a dent in the museum’s $332 million annual operating costs, even when combined with the $26 million the city provides the museum.
Charging admission could raise tens of millions of dollars per year, and the public money could possibly shift to other arts groups. “We are still waiting to see the proposed plan between the Met and our department of cultural affairs,” Ben Sarle, a spokesman for Mayor de Blasio, told the paper. “The Met is one of our most beloved, historic New York cultural institutions, and we are ready to work with them to make sure they have the resources they need to thrive.”
Better hurry up and get over to Adrián Villar Rojas's Instagramable rooftop exhibit while it's still free.
This story originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler.
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