Not even museum tickets are safe from inflation. Around the country, many museums have increased their cost of entry.
These exhibits of art, culture, history, and knowledge operate using a combination of external funding and self-generated revenue. Most museums receive their financing from public or private contributions, ticket sales, and earned income. Earned income comes from things like gift shop sales, licensing, and educational programs.
According to Sotheby’s Institute of Art, museum funding from ticket sales is usually small compared with other sources but is still an important factor. Many museums are free thanks to government and private contributions. However, not all are able to fully support themselves with external funding and must also rely on ticket sales.
Museums can be very costly to operate – they often need advanced security systems, climate-controlled storage, and a range of specialized staff. These costs rise with inflation and push up the cost of keeping a museum operational. Museums can also lose funding for one reason or another and need to fill this void with more expensive tickets.
For years, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York allowed visitors to pay whatever they wanted for entry, recommending a certain price. In 2018, however, the museum stated that far fewer patrons were paying the recommended price and decided to start charging specific rates for out-of-state residents. (The Met is also one of the most popular Instagram attractions in the world.)
Other museums, like the Crocker Art Museum in California, have raised prices to deal with rising costs while also striving to keep their exhibits accessible. They offer special days for “pay what you wish” and other discounts. The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth increased its prices significantly but offers half-price tickets on Sundays and free admission on Fridays. For other attractions that are always free check out America’s most visited city parks.
To identify the 25 art museums where ticket prices have risen the most, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on price inflation at major U.S. attractions provided by coupon distribution platform and website DealA. The site explains it used Joy of Museums to compile a list of 40 museums and used the Wayback Machine to find single adult general admission ticket prices for these museums in 2017 and compared to prices as of 12/23/2021.
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