Apologies for the long gap in posting. I nearly posted while I was on holiday in New York about this, but then I remembered I was on holiday for a reason!
While we were enjoying the Big Apple over the festive season, we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I did my homework before we went. I noticed that the Met has “recommended” entrance fees. They point out that all of their exhibits are free once you are in the museum and could visitors please pay the full recommended amount in order for them to be able to provide these at no extra cost. I thought this was an interesting viewpoint compared to some UK museums (I am being quite general here, there could be UK museums that use this approach). The Met goes as far to recommend an amount for senior citizens, students and children, in the same way other museums would lay out their prices. I think I like the honesty of the Met for this, it doesn’t explain every reason for a fee, but there is an explanation. Before we went one thing did cross my mind; how many people actually paid full price or had the confidence to say no? How would that work?
Once we were there I found out. I also got annoyed with a UK visitor behind us in the queue (but didn’t do anything or say anything as you just don’t in these situations). The other visitor had not done his homework and was kicking up a fuss as a tour guide had told him it would be “free like the British Museum”. There was no consideration of where the funding came from for the Met and how that may be different from the British Museum. I was starting to get a little tired of the comments about how the British Museum could let people in for free why couldn’t the Met, when we got to the counter. The admissions lady was welcoming and gave a full explanation of the recommended fees, but stressed that we didn’t have to pay the full amount if we didn’t want to. It was a no pressure conversation, she double checked we were happy with the cost and when we paid the recommended price she thanked us kindly. (Although everywhere, except the Guggenheim, thanked us kindly.) It worked. Not that I felt that I had to pay the recommended amount, but that I was given the option if I wanted to, to pay what I could afford, or wanted to, or get in for free if I really wanted to. I would imagine that if I was a semi-regular visitor, I may choose to pay a lower amount or even go in free if I was working on a project using the museum as a resource.
It was busy and I missed the conversation between the visitor behind us and the admissions lady. I would have liked to see his face as she politely explained how it worked and how he didn’t have to pay anything if he didn’t want to and hoped that he had a nice visit.
In addition to this observation I had an amazing time in the Met. Knowing we couldn’t see it all we planned a rough route to see some of the things we prioritised and then got lost and sidetracked by rooms of armour or expressionist paintings. There was also a good 10 minutes spent in Warhol’s Silver Clouds…and it snowed. Perfect really.