Baying at the Moon
My Journal, by Wölfflin Jack.
Is something wrong with me? I’m not particularly bothered that the Metropolitan Museum of Art just raised its regular admission fee to $30.00 for out-of-towners, starting July 1.
In theory that makes the Met more of a greedy pig than the Museum of Modern Art except the Met’s a private-public partnership and MoMA’s a private foundation and you can’t get more greedy than a private foundation. The City of New York has a seat on the Met’s Board of Trustees, they have a say in how the Museum’s run and how that affects the cultural life of New York and its attractiveness to tourists. They even have a say in admission fees and policy, though you wouldn’t know it. You’d think, now that our mayor’s offered refuge to victims of reproductive intolerance, he’d offer refuge as well to victims of cultural barrenness, the two tend to overlap.
Which is to say the idea of charging out-of-towners was a compromise to begin with. Having studied and published about the Met's admission policy and its history, I can tell you there’s a lot more precedent for the idea that admissions at the Met should be free than any number of trustees are going to accept. So the deal today most likely is: the Met is allowed to pretend to be entitled to charge admission for out-of-towners as long as it’s allowed to pretend it’s not really charging admission for residents of New York State and students in the Tri-state Area, just a “voluntary” contribution, yeah, uh-huh, sure.
I’ve noticed a sea-change in the years since I last wrote about this. There doesn’t seem to be too much pressure at the box-office to make New Yorkers pay, as in the past. It feels as if this time the Met really means it .
And this is the best part: there are lots of Black folks at the Met these days, not just individuals but Black families, from Granny to bewildered teenagers, all getting in for free. The Met now makes it easy to reserve tickets online, so if you’re part of that minority that lives its life in fear of being called a freeloader (I mean that other minority) you go online, reserve your tickets, come pick them up and you’re no different from anyone else, for once.
I don’t buy the argument that admission must be charged in order to balance the Museum’s finance; but if it’s a question of adjusting the Museum’s cultural balance sheet you can count me in. If the Museum wanted to be perfectly fair it would offer free admission to Lenape’ok People as well. And I’m waiting for all those out-of-towners to call this out for what it is: reverse cultural racism. But that’s okay, their type wouldn’t get much from their visit to begin with.
This is the Wölfflin signing off. Aoooaoh…
WOID XXII-29. Last revised July 4, 2022.