Sneak Into A Museum With Peter Coffin

by Karen Archey on July 23, 2009 · 30 comments Events

POST BY KAREN ARCHEY

Diego Leclery Whitney Museum; New York, New York USA (Click on images to supersize)

Offering sage advice for the penniless and pocket-heavy alike, artist Peter Coffin’s “How to Sneak into a Museum Without Paying” project features hand drawn maps from contributors around the globe. Thus far he’s culled a handful of floor plans and museum maps instructing readers how on how to beat the system and avoid museum fees for a forthcoming bookzine published by Printed Matter.

This week we pair with Peter Coffin to solicit submissions for this awesome endeavor. Drawings should be in black pencil or pen on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, scanned in grayscale at 200 dpi. Email submissions with your preferred contact info, including your website link, to karen@artfagcity.com no later than Thursday, July 30th. We’ll feature the best submissions in a follow-up post on Tuesday August 4th. More maps after the jump!


K.L.A. Museum of Contemporary Art; Chicago, Illinois USA


B. Griffith SF MoMA; San Francisco, California USA


D. Reetz Plains Art Museum; Fargo, North Dakota USA

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J├╝rgen O. Olbrich Museum Fridericianum; Kassel, Germany

Nico Tepreff Kunst-Werke; Berlin, Germany

{ 30 comments }

JL July 23, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Drawing’s not my thing, but it was always my experience that the way to do it at the Boston MFA was to enter the West Wing entrance, turn to the passageway at left (the “lower galleria” on this .pdf map), make a gesture to the guard sitting there indicating that you were just going into the gift shop and quickly duck into it. It was then simply a matter of browsing among the books for a moment before slipping back out behind the guard and down the hall to the galleries. From that point, as long as you avoided any of the guards around the building entrances, no one would ask to see your little admission tag.

Now that the West Wing entrance is closed, that strategy won’t work, unfortunately. I have a vague memory of doing something similar at the Huntington St. entrance, with the library taking the place of the gift shop, but that’s a little trickier since it’s further away and up the stairs. A shame, because long before MoMA, the MFA was a leader in jacking up admission prices.

JL July 23, 2009 at 9:55 am

Drawing’s not my thing, but it was always my experience that the way to do it at the Boston MFA was to enter the West Wing entrance, turn to the passageway at left (the “lower galleria” on this .pdf map), make a gesture to the guard sitting there indicating that you were just going into the gift shop and quickly duck into it. It was then simply a matter of browsing among the books for a moment before slipping back out behind the guard and down the hall to the galleries. From that point, as long as you avoided any of the guards around the building entrances, no one would ask to see your little admission tag.

Now that the West Wing entrance is closed, that strategy won’t work, unfortunately. I have a vague memory of doing something similar at the Huntington St. entrance, with the library taking the place of the gift shop, but that’s a little trickier since it’s further away and up the stairs. A shame, because long before MoMA, the MFA was a leader in jacking up admission prices.

Karen Archey July 23, 2009 at 4:03 pm

JL —

Awesome! If you figure it out, you should submit a drawing! As one could probably imagine, this project is just as much (if not more) about community building than drawing.

Karen Archey July 23, 2009 at 11:03 am

JL —

Awesome! If you figure it out, you should submit a drawing! As one could probably imagine, this project is just as much (if not more) about community building than drawing.

Sean McCaughan July 23, 2009 at 7:09 pm

It seems to me that if you go to the upper level of the gift shop at the Met you can then exit into the museum at the top of the grand staircase far away from any suspecting guards who stand at the bottom of said stairs.

Or ask someone for their badge as they leave, but I always liked to keep those, and I think other people do too.

At the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach say you’re a friend of Diane Camber or Princess Thi-Nga, or that you’re a Miami Beach resident.

At the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach say you went to D.A.S.H. (Design and Architecture Senior High). They give students from there free admission, and alumni get it too.

Sean McCaughan July 23, 2009 at 2:09 pm

It seems to me that if you go to the upper level of the gift shop at the Met you can then exit into the museum at the top of the grand staircase far away from any suspecting guards who stand at the bottom of said stairs.

Or ask someone for their badge as they leave, but I always liked to keep those, and I think other people do too.

At the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach say you’re a friend of Diane Camber or Princess Thi-Nga, or that you’re a Miami Beach resident.

At the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach say you went to D.A.S.H. (Design and Architecture Senior High). They give students from there free admission, and alumni get it too.

Sean McCaughan July 23, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Actually saying you went to DASH gets you into a lot of places in Miami.

Sean McCaughan July 23, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Actually saying you went to DASH gets you into a lot of places in Miami.

Gregg July 23, 2009 at 7:51 pm

I always get into the Whitney free.

I am afraid to post how, because then it will be over.

Gregg July 23, 2009 at 2:51 pm

I always get into the Whitney free.

I am afraid to post how, because then it will be over.

Art Fag City July 23, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Just a reminder guys: We’re looking for drawings.

Art Fag City July 23, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Just a reminder guys: We’re looking for drawings.

Thomas Martin July 23, 2009 at 8:58 pm

I just have to say that breaking into the met is a little tacky since you can pay what you want. But I am curious about Gregg’s Whitney trick.

Thomas Martin July 23, 2009 at 3:58 pm

I just have to say that breaking into the met is a little tacky since you can pay what you want. But I am curious about Gregg’s Whitney trick.

Valerie Heck July 23, 2009 at 9:57 pm

I know people don’t have money right now. But we’re losing museums fast because they don’t have enough money. I’ll pay an entry to keep the museum running.

Valerie Heck July 23, 2009 at 4:57 pm

I know people don’t have money right now. But we’re losing museums fast because they don’t have enough money. I’ll pay an entry to keep the museum running.

Karen Archey July 23, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Valerie —

I appreciate your sentiment, but the amount of money a museum receives from admissions each year is generally not enough to even pay their electric bills.

Karen Archey July 23, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Valerie —

I appreciate your sentiment, but the amount of money a museum receives from admissions each year is generally not enough to even pay their electric bills.

Rondell Jenkins July 24, 2009 at 4:53 pm

I also have some original artwork for sale. Please visit my web page for details and pricing.

Rondell Jenkins July 24, 2009 at 11:53 am

I also have some original artwork for sale. Please visit my web page for details and pricing.

JL July 24, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Now Valerie’s making me feel bad. As it happens, I get into most museums free with my ID card, so I haven’t really had to think about sneaking in any of them for some time, and I think this is fun post and idea regardless of other issues. It’s my general practice, however, to pay admission/slip a bucks into the donation box at small museums and use the ID to get into the bigger/more well-funded institutions. To the extent that there’s an ethical concern involved, I do think it’s worthwhile making at least a show of support to the little places, even if it’s a token that wouldn’t pay for 10 minutes of their electricity. Also: stay in school, kids.

JL July 24, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Now Valerie’s making me feel bad. As it happens, I get into most museums free with my ID card, so I haven’t really had to think about sneaking in any of them for some time, and I think this is fun post and idea regardless of other issues. It’s my general practice, however, to pay admission/slip a bucks into the donation box at small museums and use the ID to get into the bigger/more well-funded institutions. To the extent that there’s an ethical concern involved, I do think it’s worthwhile making at least a show of support to the little places, even if it’s a token that wouldn’t pay for 10 minutes of their electricity. Also: stay in school, kids.

AndyC July 27, 2009 at 1:01 am

As a museum curator working in a free-entry museum in the UK, this thread shouldn’t concern me. But it does. I know from bitter experience how poorly funded museums are. 10 years ago I spent a year and a half facing redundancy because of lack of funds. I managed to hang on in there. I love my job and I’m still there, but the experience nearly broke me. You think you’re stealing pennies and cents, but someone suffers. Yeah, the big museums will still get their funds to stay open, but somewhere down the line someone will lose out. I wouldn’t wish that on any worker in a museum, big or small.

But maybe whilst you’re having fun you’re actually doing these museums a service by revealing how to plug the gaps and achieve their income targets.
You want to get in free? Go join your country’s Museums Association or its equivalent – they’ll probably give you a card that’ll let you in for free as a supporter of our profession.
Better still, put your efforts into campaigning for the state-funded museums to be free admission and fully funded. Somehow in this economic climate I doubt that will happen.

AndyC July 26, 2009 at 8:01 pm

As a museum curator working in a free-entry museum in the UK, this thread shouldn’t concern me. But it does. I know from bitter experience how poorly funded museums are. 10 years ago I spent a year and a half facing redundancy because of lack of funds. I managed to hang on in there. I love my job and I’m still there, but the experience nearly broke me. You think you’re stealing pennies and cents, but someone suffers. Yeah, the big museums will still get their funds to stay open, but somewhere down the line someone will lose out. I wouldn’t wish that on any worker in a museum, big or small.

But maybe whilst you’re having fun you’re actually doing these museums a service by revealing how to plug the gaps and achieve their income targets.
You want to get in free? Go join your country’s Museums Association or its equivalent – they’ll probably give you a card that’ll let you in for free as a supporter of our profession.
Better still, put your efforts into campaigning for the state-funded museums to be free admission and fully funded. Somehow in this economic climate I doubt that will happen.

Jimmy August 3, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Wow! This is the number one way for museums to find out about how people get in for free. STOP POSTING THIS INFO because guarantee the museums will change their security strategies especially in this economy!

Jimmy August 3, 2009 at 11:47 am

Wow! This is the number one way for museums to find out about how people get in for free. STOP POSTING THIS INFO because guarantee the museums will change their security strategies especially in this economy!

erika August 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm

As a poor just-out-of-grad-school painter I completely support sneaking in, running in or other creative ways of gaining access to major museums. I get a discount with my student ID but 7 bucks a pop? Please. I’m one of those, “I want to check out art on a weekly basis” individuals and have been forced to leave the museum scene for galleries. Thank god for the free art and booze.

Keep posting….drawings.

erika August 13, 2009 at 10:37 am

As a poor just-out-of-grad-school painter I completely support sneaking in, running in or other creative ways of gaining access to major museums. I get a discount with my student ID but 7 bucks a pop? Please. I’m one of those, “I want to check out art on a weekly basis” individuals and have been forced to leave the museum scene for galleries. Thank god for the free art and booze.

Keep posting….drawings.

Anne August 25, 2009 at 4:22 pm

Awesome website guys! I work in a museum and in the last 6 months we’ve had two entire departments of really nice people laid off because of lack of money. No one’s had a raise in three years and we’re told not to expect one in 2010 either. Most of us have no insurance or benefits, but we love art and museums and that’s why we work here.

None of us knows if we’re the next to be laid off, but we try to hang tough and keep in good spirits for the visitors coming in. This website is really great… if you’re trying to close down museums. Karen is right, admissions isn’t the big revenue piece for museums, but in this economy, every penny counts. Companies that were big supporters in years before are not able to fulfill there donation promises.

I just deleted the final paragraph because it was pointedly directed at one poster and it wouldn’t be fair to attack someone in this forum. I’ll just leave it with student memberships are very reasonable. In fact, if you want to come to the museum more than a couple of times a year, most memberships are a great deal. Museum free days are another great way the museums try to help everyone get to see art. So stop pretending this website is about your right to see art even if you don’t have the funds. This site is only about trying to get away with something in order to feel special and different from those boring people that follow rules and respect others.

Anne August 25, 2009 at 11:22 am

Awesome website guys! I work in a museum and in the last 6 months we’ve had two entire departments of really nice people laid off because of lack of money. No one’s had a raise in three years and we’re told not to expect one in 2010 either. Most of us have no insurance or benefits, but we love art and museums and that’s why we work here.

None of us knows if we’re the next to be laid off, but we try to hang tough and keep in good spirits for the visitors coming in. This website is really great… if you’re trying to close down museums. Karen is right, admissions isn’t the big revenue piece for museums, but in this economy, every penny counts. Companies that were big supporters in years before are not able to fulfill there donation promises.

I just deleted the final paragraph because it was pointedly directed at one poster and it wouldn’t be fair to attack someone in this forum. I’ll just leave it with student memberships are very reasonable. In fact, if you want to come to the museum more than a couple of times a year, most memberships are a great deal. Museum free days are another great way the museums try to help everyone get to see art. So stop pretending this website is about your right to see art even if you don’t have the funds. This site is only about trying to get away with something in order to feel special and different from those boring people that follow rules and respect others.

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