According to art critic Leah Sandals’s charticle over at This Magazine, titled “Admission Impossible,” the answer to that question may be Toronto.
Gaze at her chart, which was published a few months ago, and be amazed:
I did some more research about museums around the world and those Torontonian institutions, hell all the Canadian’s ones, look pretty darn pricey in comparison:
- Tokyo National Museum (Tokyo) — 600 Yen (US$7.26)
- Bridgestone Museum of Art (Tokyo) — 800 Yen (US$9.71)
- Sao Paolo Museum of Art (Sao Paolo) — R$15 (US$8.94)
- National Museum of Anthropology (Mexico City) — 45-150 pesos (US$3.74-$15.80)
- South African National Gallery (Cape Town) — R15 (US$2.07)
- National Museum (Cairo) — £E20 (US$3.36)
- Istanbul Museum of Modern Art (Istanbul) — 12 TL (US$7.61)
- Alte Nationalgalerie (Berlin) — 8 Euro (US$10.89)
- Hong Kong Museum of Art (Hong Kong) — HK$10 (US$1.29)
- Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow) — 300 RUB (US$10.27)
So, why are Canadian museum so pricey? They certainly aren’t better than the others on the list.
Sandals has more discussion about the issue over at her blog, which is always a good read for those interested in the Canadian art scene.
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Hmm. How can you say the Toronto museums “certainly aren’t better” than the others on the list? I agree they’re overpriced and that they don’t offer nearly enough free-time, but I don’t think it’s fair to say, definitively, that they somehow don’t measure up as “world class institutions.” Also, binding cost to quality is a slippery, subjective slope.
I never said they weren’t world-class, I simply said they weren’t better.
Still curious about the criteria you’re using to arrive at that conclusion. Seems an unfair statement to make, that’s all. I’m not claiming that they ARE indeed better… I just mean that there isn’t really any way to say so either way.
As someone who grew up in Toronto and who knows the city’s museum really well, my statement comes from experience. The AGO has huge gaps in their collection, the just got a Cezanne a few years ago and it’s meh (just using this one as an example, there are tons of others, including Van Gogh…), their Italian Renaissance collection is very weak, and in terms of early 20th C., it’s ok but not great. In terms of the ROM, the new building is a bad thing for the art (Liebeskind’s pavilion in Denver has the same issues) and their collection by trying to be encyclopedic just isn’t and is weakest in terms of paintings and much stronger in terms of archeological artifacts and furniture. I still love them but I don’t think they are stellar.
Useful post. So typical of the US that a car should enter the equation. Visited Getty twice. Both times took the bus, much better that way. No line-ups nor having to worry about reserving ahead for parking. Glad Tate’s still free, going to the UK later this week.
Thanks for the link, Hrag! The more I research this issue, the more people tell me how “money is tight on the inside” of Canadian museums, hence the fees and relative lack of free hours or free permanent-collection access. Also, I understand access isn’t just a financial matter–can be cultural, ability-based too. Still, I think it’s worth researching further in terms of the Canadian experience. When they all are priced high, citizens have little reference points for alternatives. I look forward to any links or citations others may be able to post on this matter.
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