Special Report

The Most Expensive Museums in America

SeanPavonePhoto / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

Museums play an important part in America’s cultural life, sharing not just art but history, biography, and more. They showcase some of humankind’s most heralded achievements and also sometimes some of our darkest moments. In addition, museum architecture can often be worth seeing all on its own. (A few are among the most popular Instagram attractions in the world.)

Some museums are free to the public – but it costs a lot to collect and maintain a good museum, staff it properly, and install and monitor effective security systems.  Costs add up and while many museums enjoy local or federal government support and private endowments, they usually also need to fund their operation through admission fees.

To identify the most expensive art museums in the USA, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on price inflation at major U.S. attractions provided by coupon distribution platform and website DealA. The site considered 40 top American museums, comparing the price of a single adult general admission ticket as of December 23, 2021, with the equivalent ticket price in 2017, derived from each museum’s 2017 web pages accessed via the Wayback Machine. If online and in-person ticket prices differed, online prices were used. Automatically applied promotional prices were not considered. When ticket prices differed by day, the starting price of a general admission ticket was used.

Click here to see the most expensive museums in America

Some of the institutions on this list are world-class art museums, like New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Others focus on history or science – for instance, the USS Midway Museum and the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex. All of them provide experiences that cannot be found anywhere else. (These are America’s cultural capitals.)

Source: Courtesy of Andy Warhol Museum

22. Andy Warhol Museum
> Location: Philadelphia, PA
> Current ticket price: $20
> 2017 ticket price: $20
> Percent increase since 2017: 0.0%

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Source: Courtesy of Driehaus Museum

21. Driehaus Museum
> Location: Chicago, IL
> Current ticket price: $20
> 2017 ticket price: $20
> Percent increase since 2017: 0.0%

Source: mim.org

20. Musical Instrument Museum
> Location: Phoenix, AZ
> Current ticket price: $20
> 2017 ticket price: $20
> Percent increase since 2017: 0.0%

Source: Kirkikis / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

19. Norman Rockwell Museum
> Location: Stockbridge, MA
> Current ticket price: $20
> 2017 ticket price: $18
> Percent increase since 2017: 11.1%

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Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

18. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
> Location: Boston, MA
> Current ticket price: $20
> 2017 ticket price: $15
> Percent increase since 2017: 33.3%

Source: Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society

17. New-York Historical Society
> Location: New York City, NY
> Current ticket price: $22
> 2017 ticket price: $20
> Percent increase since 2017: 10%

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Source: csfotoimages / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

16. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
> Location: Tucson, AZ
> Current ticket price: $23.95
> 2017 ticket price: $21.95
> Percent increase since 2017: 9.1%

Source: volgariver / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

15. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
> Location: Sarasota, FL
> Current ticket price: $25
> 2017 ticket price: $25
> Percent increase since 2017: 0.0%

Source: Manakin / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

14. Museum of Modern Art
> Location: New York City, NY
> Current ticket price: $25
> 2017 ticket price: $25
> Percent increase since 2017: 0.0%

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Source: Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts

13. Museum of Fine Arts
> Location: Boston, MA
> Current ticket price: $25
> 2017 ticket price: $25
> Percent increase since 2017: 0.0%

12. Neue Galerie New York
> Location: New York City, NY
> Current ticket price: $25
> 2017 ticket price: $20
> Percent increase since 2017: 25%

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Source: g01xm / iStock via Getty Images

11. Philadelphia Museum of Art
> Location: Philadelphia, PA
> Current ticket price: $25
> 2017 ticket price: $20
> Percent increase since 2017: 25%

Source: diegograndi / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

10. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
> Location: New York City, NY
> Current ticket price: $25
> 2017 ticket price: Free ($25 donation suggested but not mandatory)
> Percent increase since 2017: Undefined

Source: aluxum / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

9. National September 11 Memorial & Museum
> Location: New York City, NY
> Current ticket price: $26
> 2017 ticket price: $24
> Percent increase since 2017: 8.3%

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Source: paule858 / iStock via Getty Images

8. USS Midway Museum
> Location: San Diego, CA
> Current ticket price: $26
> 2017 ticket price: $20
> Percent increase since 2017: 30%

Source: Courtesy of The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

7. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
> Location: Indianapolis, IN
> Current ticket price: $26.50
> 2017 ticket price: $23.50
> Percent increase since 2017: 12.8%

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Source: corfoto / iStock via Getty Images

6. Greenfield Village
> Location: Dearborn, MI
> Current ticket price: $28
> 2017 ticket price: $27
> Percent increase since 2017: 3.7%

Source: TatianaMironenko / Getty Images

5. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
> Location: San Marino, CA
> Current ticket price: $29
> 2017 ticket price: $29
> Percent increase since 2017: 0.0%

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

4. Salvador Dalí­ Museum
> Location: St. Petersburg, FL
> Current ticket price: $29
> 2017 ticket price: $24
> Percent increase since 2017: 20.8%

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Source: Art Wager / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

3. The National WWII Museum
> Location: New Orleans, LA
> Current ticket price: $29.50
> 2017 ticket price: $26
> Percent increase since 2017: 13.5%

2. Chihuly Garden and Glass
> Location: Seattle, WA
> Current ticket price: $32
> 2017 ticket price: $24
> Percent increase since 2017: 33.3%

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1. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
> Location: Merritt Island, FL
> Current ticket price: $57
> 2017 ticket price: $50
> Percent increase since 2017: 14%

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