The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has announced that, beginning March 1, visitors who do not live in New York State will have to pay a mandatory admission fee.
The fee for out-of-state visitors will be the same as the current suggested admission price: $25 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $12 for students. The museum also announced that it will honor full-price admissions tickets for three consecutive days, giving visitors more time in which to experience its three locations in the city. According to museum officials, the new admissions policy is likely to affect about a third of its visitors. Currently, 30 percent of its visitors are from New York City, another 6 percent are from elsewhere in the state, and 41 percent pay no admission because they are museum members, visiting as part of a group, or are children under the age of 12. For the first year that the new policy is in effect, the Met board will provide funding to extend the pay-as-you-wish policy to students from New Jersey and Connecticut; the museum also will seek philanthropic support to fund the student policy going forward.
Although the Met has not had a mandatory admission fee policy since 1970, in recent years it has seen a significant decline in revenue generated per visitor under the pay-as-you-wish policy. According to the museum, only 17 percent of adults currently pay the suggested amount, down from 63 percent in 2004, and the average per-person contribution has fallen to $9. In 2017, the Met generated roughly 14 percent of its operating budget from admissions revenue — among the lowest percentage for museums in the city. It estimates that its revised policy will increase admissions revenue as a percentage of its overall budget to between 16 percent and 17 percent.
The City of New York, which owns the Met building, approved the new policy. According to the New York Times, of the $26 million the city currently allocates to the Met, the $15 million that pays for energy costs will remain untouched, while the $11 million used to offset operating costs will be reduced on a sliding scale after the first full year the new policy has been in place, with a cap at $3 million. The funds saved by the city in reducing its support for the museum will be redirected to cultural institutions in underserved parts of the city, commissioner of cultural affairs Tom Finkelpearl told the Times.
"The Met and the city are partners, and we are grateful to Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Finkelpearl for their thoughtful review of this policy and for working with us to ensure that the Met will continue to serve all of New York and our visitors from around the nation and the world for generations to come," said Met president and CEO Daniel H. Weiss in a statement. "We are committed to achieving excellence in all that we do, and we are determined that the museum will remain accessible to as many visitors as possible while it also thrives as a financially stable institution."