The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Credit: Benjamin Norman for The New York Times
An article in the New York Times caught my attention recently. Titled, Visit to the Met Could Cost You, if You Don’t Live in New York, the article, written by Robin Pogrebin reported that this venerable institution is thinking of charging “…a mandatory fee for non-residents.”
New Yorker’s reading this will be aware of course, that the Met currently has a suggested full priced entrance fee of USD$25. International visitors who have already been to the museum and paid the full price may not have been aware that they could have entered for free—if they had the confidence to front up and ask for free entry.
While comments for the article are now closed, there were many ‘for’ and ‘against’ arguments about the proposal among the 462 contributors, one of whom was myself. Here’s what I wrote:
Interesting article and discussions. As it happens I live in Australia, but will be visiting New York City for almost three months over the coming summer. In preparation for this visit, just two weeks ago I paid for reduced annual membership to both The Met and to MoMA (each cost US$70 or AU$95.40).
Why? Because I intend to make multiple visits to both institutions during my stay, and paying for membership is the most economical way to enjoy the full range of benefits, along with the events and activities that both museums program across the summer months. Even if I visit each of the museums just once per week over ten weeks, my investment will have more than justified the initial expense. Of course I will miss out on the other nine months of my annual membership, but that’s part of what I call ’the cost of travel’.
I also paid because I can. I would much rather pay for membership, even though I won’t be able to take full advantage of it over 12 months, if that membership helps those who genuinely can’t afford to visit either of these great museums, to do so for free.
A medicine vision by an unrecorded Arapaho artist (detail) ca. 1880 in Oklahoma.
The American Wing of the storied Metropolitan Museum of Art has long held a collection of typically “American” artifacts: portraits of wigged colonial leaders, Tiffany chandeliers, Frank Lloyd Wright chairs, silver owned by Paul Revere Jr., quilts by unknown 19th-century makers.
Together they tell a specific, but noticeably incomplete, history of the United States.
Beginning in the fall of 2018, however, the American Wing will attempt to course correct by including a subgroup of art that has been regrettably missing from the section: Native American art. Thanks to a donation from collectors Charles and Valerie Diker, a batch of 91 works of Native American art will be headed for the American Wing, marking a historic change in the way art is curated at New York’s most famous museum.
While New York City is home to the National Museum of the American Indian (located in the old Customs House opposite Bowling Green), it is surely way past time that Native American culture was better represented at the Met Museum.
Making the Most of the Metropolitan Museum
The New York Times also has a very informative feature on how to get the best of any visit to that great institution and its massive collections. Among the highlights, Daniel McDermon includes five ‘Must See’ rooms (Greek and Roman Sculpture Court; the Vermeer Collection; Asian Art; the Impressionists; and the Temple of Dendur). He also writes about the amazing spaces within the museum, intimate treasures, what to see with kids, and much more.
Ellis cartoon courtesy of The New Yorker
If you are looking for even more to do in New York City, the New York Times has several arts sections worth bookmarking and checking on a regular basis: