Will the Museum of Modern Art’s admission price increase give some visitors sticker-price shock? Of course.
The $5 increase — a 25 percent jump — puts regular adult admission at $25 a person, compared with admission prices of $18 at other major New York institutions like the Guggenheim and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s $25 ticket price is only a recommended donation.
But if MoMA’s required admission fee seems inflated, take into account that the museum does not rely on government funding at a time when operating costs, particularly those for insuring and transporting artworks and organizing major shows, have skyrocketed.
The prices of insuring and transporting artworks, as well as organizing major shows, have skyrocketed.
Unlike many other nonprofits, the museum is responsible for bringing in all of its revenue for its operating budget through various sources, of which admission is just one. In 2010, with attendance at 3.09 million visitors, admissions revenue totaled $24.8 million, compared with the reported annual operating costs of $153.8 million for that year. According to the museum’s 2009 report, it received $275,000 in government support, with that figure dropping to zero for 2010. From time to time, the museum may seek government support for specific projects. For instance, the city gave $65 million to support a major expansion and renovation in 2004.
New York City is home to the nation’s largest cultural funding agency, which supports 33 city organizations that fall under the umbrella of its Cultural Institutions Group. The expense budget, which includes funding and direct subsidies, is $141 million for the current fiscal year. However, MoMA, unlike the Met and the Museum of Natural History, among other leading institutions, is not on that list.
There is no question that MoMA’s new ticket price will give museum-goers pause, no matter how extraordinary the Picassos, Pollocks and van Goghs inside. On the other hand, with a little extra effort, visitors can cut or avoid the cost altogether. Online ticket buyers receive a discount, and there is no processing fee. CUNY and SUNY students are entitled to free admission with valid identification. And at least once a week, visitors can take advantage of Target-sponsored Free Fridays, when admission is waived during evening hours.