Friday, July 26, 2013

DO ART MUSEUMS CHARGE TO MUCH?!

CAN ART MUSEUMS JUSTIFY THEIR HIGH FEES?

An Editorial by Rabbit's Moon Studio


Metropolitan Museum of Art                                   from google image for educational purposes onl

Most of my post are on artists, art advocacy or giving an inner look of an artists thought process through my own art work, but this is a discussion that I think needs to be had.  Can Art Museums justify the rising cost of their entrance fees? 


Out of Money                                    from google image  

The average cost of art museums has been rising steadily with the cost of the economy, but to some extent much at a much faster rate.  Insurance costs, electricity, staff salaries and much more go into the reasoning. What I have noticed is smaller museums are charging as much as the mega museums like Metropolitan Museum of Art or The Modern Museum of Art or The Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Philadelphia Museum of Art              google image
 

Smaller cities and communities do not have the same high fees as a large city like New York or Chicago or Los Angeles.  But even then in large cities can this be justified?  That is a question for us to look at and ponder.  Along with what is the purpose of an art museum and what is the purpose of art? Is it education or is it solely for profit?
And to look closely at the fees should we be charging students and schools who want an educational trip?  Should we be charging seniors on a limited budget?  Should we be charging parking fees in areas where parking is not an issue?  Should museums charge at all?  Should they be free and non-profit seeking making their monies in other ways. 
I first became aware of the problem when a local museum I love raised their fees to $21 dollars.  Then other museums in the area began to raise their prices.  The museum also stopped honoring its reciprocal agreements with NARM within 50 miles.  One pays an extra fee to the museums to belong to the North American Reciprocal Agreement for Museum.  So not to honor NARM in your area, just to force people to come to your museum alone and  pay an extra fee seems like an unfair practice.  
As an art educator I have taken hundreds if not thousands of children to art museums on field trips.  Many of the schools I preferred to teach in were low income, poverty challenged schools.  These schools could rarely afford any fee of any kind. The children came form the most impoverished of backgrounds.  Should art museums be asking a profit from these schools and children?
Most of these children will never have an opportunity to visit a museum again in their whole lives if they do not have the exposure in school.  
It is my opinion that fees should be little, nominal at best.  The purpose of an art museum in my view is to share and educate people on the value of art and artists. It is to learn about how visual artist see our world and help us experience it. Museums should never charge schools or any educational purpose of visits.  
If you think of it this way, a family taking their children would be spending a huge amount of money that would make a visit a one time event rather than a constant educational experience of their children.  And how does this limit us as a society and civilization if we take art experiences out of the realm of the average citizen to that of the elite?  I think art museums need to revaluate their purpose and direction. 


Dallas Museum of Art             from google image solely for educational purposes

 Are their other ways to fund raise, and to sfinancially support their collection and cost.  Dallas Museum of Art is one museum that is leading the way in a more inclusive approach. Kudo's to you Dallas Museum of art and all museums that are working out ways for the general public to be part of your art family!

This is an article on new museum thinking on art fees and relationships with the general public.  This type of thinking gives me hope their will be new more inclusive ways of including all citizens.

"Museums are relying less on attention-getting art or blockbuster exhibits and re-examining how they relate to the public as they compete with other kinds of entertainment, according to experts. While science museum and aquarium attendance remains strong, art museums are seeing mostly flat growth, with spikes in visitors for extraordinarily popular exhibitions like the recent“Picasso Black and White” at the Guggenheim.
Museums are also finding that as baby boomers age and their money goes to other purposes or other generations, the institutions need to cultivate new groups as bases of support.
Mr. Anderson says he is upending the museum-world conventions of paid entry and paid basic membership in an attempt to bring in people who might find a museum visit too costly.
“We wanted to deepen community involvement and get repeat attendance,” said Mr. Anderson in explaining the decision, put in place in late January, to end the general entrance and basic membership fees. More than 60 percent of American museums charge a general admission fee, according to the American Alliance of Museums. The admission fee helps defray operating costs, as do paid memberships, renting out space, retail sales and donor gifts.We should know that as a viewing public we need to value the arts as much as sports or any other venue, but should we be priced out of attending at all." from the New York Times Art Section.

Art museums should be for all of us, not just the rich! 

addendum: One point I should have made is that every national and local government should be supplementing and supporting it art museums.  And fairly to add to this discussion in an economic recessive time the USA and other countries have cut their funding to museums and art programs across the county and around the world.  It is the last place that should be cut, but in the arts we know it is the first place that is often cut.  

****If you know a museum that is being inclusive, that is making art affordable for all, that has a new approach to engaging their audience please email or add to comment and I will be more than happy to honor them and give them a shout out!!!!****
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