The Met Museum announced Tuesday, that they will be raising their admission price 33% in August, which has prompted a shit load of discussion from various media sources about public access to museums. There is good reason for this dialogue to be happening, because there really shouldn't be any charge to visit a museum in the first place, (free access to cultural assets is important to the development of any nation), but the idea that a 5 dollar price increase makes the museum more elitist I think might be a bit extreme. So, before we mobilize and protest this great injustice, let’s go over a few questions to make sure this case is “air tight”.
Q: If an amusement park raises its prices 5 bucks does this make it elitist?
A: No. But wait, an amusement park is for the public…
Q: How many of us actually pay the full cost of the recommended admission?
A: I know I don't, but I'm poor. And yet strangely this hasn't deterred me from visiting the museum.
Q: How will this hike affect the primary visitors of the Met?
A: The primary visitors to the museum are tourists so I can't imagine the price hike is going to detour them — tourists tour. That's what they do. I'm also not convinced the rich will spend significantly more time at museums than the rest of us folk because the ticket price is no object. I think they just spend less time at amusement parks, so we notice them more when we end up in the same place.
Q: If the admission prices aren't the largest deterrent to visiting a museum, where is this talk of elitism coming from?
A: A complicated question that deserves a longer answer than it's going to get, but on the point of who gets to use the museum I think it makes sense to discuss the Met's hours. Other than Friday and Saturday, the Met closes at 5:30, and Monday the museum is closed, so unless you don’t have to work or are a tourist, you're not visiting the museum during the majority of their open hours. You can see a movie virtually any time you want, so clearly there are some things that are made more available to the public than others.
You know, nobody likes a price increase, but given much of clamor I’ve read over the last 24 hours, you’d think the hike was indicative of the decay of American society. The problems people are discussing aren’t new, nor are they made that much more severe by a 5 buck increase at the door.