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MoMA PS1 Will Be Free for All New Yorkers for a Year

(image by Benjamin Sutton for Hyperallergic)
(image by Benjamin Sutton for Hyperallergic)

MoMA PS1’s Greater New York opens in just four days, which is exciting if you’re someone who cares about a quinquennial survey exhibition of artists living and working in the New York area. If you don’t, what is wrong with you?! But also, here’s something else to be excited about: starting that same day, October 11, MoMA PS1 will be free for all New Yorkers for a year.

“We wanted to do something that would directly give back to the city the museum lives in,” MoMA PS1 Director Klaus Biesenbach told Hyperallergic.

The new policy comes as a gift from the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, a philanthropic organization with a long history of giving to the arts and education. Established in 1984, the foundation is named for Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen, the latter an investment banker and founder of the American Academy of Berlin who died in 2004. Together, the couple supported Carnegie Hall, the New School, the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, among many other causes and organizations.

Their daughter, Marina Kellen French, who serves as vice president of the foundation, said in a press release that the MoMA PS1 admission gift is being made in honor of all New York City artists. It also coincides with the 40th anniversary of the institution, originally called the PS1 Contemporary Art Center and founded by Alanna Heiss, next year.

French played an instrumental part in the genesis of the gift, Biesenbach explained: “Marina and I go to studio visits and galleries regularly, and once during one of these trips, we started thinking about how wonderful it would be to visit institutions much in the same way. It was a decision made in dialogue.”

The new free admission policy applies only during regular museum hours and lasts through October 15, 2016; to qualify, New Yorkers must show proof of residency, like a driver’s license, utility bill, or municipal ID. The change may strike some as slightly superfluous, since MoMA PS1 was already operating on just a suggested admission fee ($10), but it “matters a lot,” Biesenbach said, “because cost can be a barrier for so many people. By advertising free entrance we hope to attract the very people who may not have known that admission was a suggested donation or perhaps felt too proud to come by without paying — we’ve now offered all New Yorkers an open invitation.”

It’s one that feels especially welcome in light of the fact that parent institution MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art) charges $25 to get in, making it, along with the Guggenheim, the most expensive art museum in New York.

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