The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan has officially taken second place on the list of New York City’s most expensive museums, with an admissions fare hike announced this week. Non-member adults visiting the museum without CityPass are expected to pay $30 for entry — a $5 increase from the previous $25 price — while students and people with disabilities will pay a dollar extra at $19 per ticket, and veterans or active service members will pay $25 per ticket. Children 12 and under will continue to reap the benefits of free admission, as offered by many NYC institutions.
Announced less than a month after the Whitney Museum of American Art’s decision to raise its fares to $30 for non-member adults and $24 for students and seniors, the Guggenheim’s price hike was attributed to financial strain from the pandemic as well as increased operating costs.
“The new rates align with those of the museum community in New York City and will help support the operational costs of the museum,” Guggenheim spokesperson Sara Fox told Hyperallergic, noting that this was the first fare increase since 2015. “Furthermore, the additional revenue will allow the Guggenheim to continue providing accessible programming, dynamic exhibitions, and an enjoyable visitor experience.” Fox added that the museum would extend its pay-what-you-wish time slot by an hour on Saturdays, now from 5pm to 8pm.
Museum admission fare hikes appear to be a nationwide trend, with the Philadelphia Museum of Art recently increasing fees from $25 to $30 and the Art Institute of Chicago charging out-of-state adults $32 for entry as of last May.
While the New York Times reported that both memberships and attendance were down at the Guggenheim, increased admission prices could further drive down museum attendance — a family outing for two parents and two teenagers would cost over $100 with the new pricing. The Metropolitan Museum of Art set the precedent last July with their $30 admission fee for out-of-towners. However, some data suggests that admission prices are not the primary barrier to cultural institutions as visitors who want to be there are willing to pay for it, and that there are other steps museums could take to increase accessibility including programs for low-income visitors and marketing strategies to attract people who would typically prefer to spend their time and money elsewhere.
In 2015, Hyperallergic examined data pertaining to museum attendance in relation to admissions fees and the overarching conclusion was that only a small percentage of museumgoers considered cost to be a barrier, and that museums and institutions that adopted or maintained free admission saw higher attendance numbers in part because of repeat visitors.
For anyone who still isn’t convinced by the motives for fare hikes, a list of institutions offering free or pay-as-you-wish admission across New York City is available at the end of this Hyperallergic report. It’s also worth pointing out that galleries and student exhibitions are always free to the public.