Last fall, Carrie and I visited the Met and the Cloisters while in NYC. While checking in and getting our visitor passes, we saw that the suggested admission was $25. We made the suggested donation, but a third member of our group made a lesser donation after asking if the $25 price was required. The admissions clerk cheerfully told us the donation was completely voluntary, and that a visitor needn’t pay the full amount to gain admittance.
I’ve been to the museum twice, and both times I thought it was clear that the $25 suggested donation was exactly that – a suggestion. I never felt pressured into making the donation, but did feel that the $25 was undervaluing the experience; I’ve been to cultural events that cost far more and provided far less value. Apparently, however, not everyone feels the same. The Met has been sued several times, including a recent class action suit, for purportedly misleading visitors into feeling they have to pay the full admission, or, at the very least, not making it clear that the donation is voluntary.
It seems a shame that the museum will now be paying legal fees to defend itself instead of putting the money to better use caring for and acquiring artistic treasures. It also seems that the museum should be allowed to try to collect the maximum donations possible from visitors.
Read Met Director and CEO, Thomas Campbell’s statement on the suit and museum admission policies on the Met’s website.
Read about the suit on Talking Points Memo.
Have you been to the Met? If so, did you feel pressured to make the donation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.