Inflation Hits Museums, as the Guggenheim Becomes the Latest New York Institution to Hike Prices

The Guggenheim's new admission is a 20 percent increase.

An exterior view along Fifth Avenue of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2009. Photo by Stan Honda/AFP via Getty Images.

Art and culture lovers in New York should prepare themselves to spend quite a bit more to visit the city’s leading art museums. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has become the latest institution to increase general admission from $25 to $30—a hefty 20 percent price hike.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art started the trend in July 2022, with its first ticket increase—also from $25 to $30—in 11 years. At the time, a spokesperson dubbed this “a modest increase.” (New York residents and tri-state-area students can still purchase pay-what-you wish admission.)

Last month, the Whitney Museum of American Art, where prices had held steady since 2016, followed suit with the same increase—and, with its $25 admission for students and seniors, it became the city’s most expensive institution. (The Met charges $22 for seniors and $17 for students.)

Adult tickets to the Guggenheim, meanwhile, had been $25 since 2015. With the increase, first reported by the New York Times, students and seniors will now pay $19.

“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 Artnet News in an email, citing the institution’s finances. “The additional revenue will allow the Guggenheim to continue providing accessible programming, dynamic exhibitions, and an enjoyable visitor experience.”

At both the Whitney and the Guggenheim, the cost of admission is going up at a time of transition. The Whitney’s current chief curator, Scott Rothkopf, will take the reins from director Adam Weinberg in November, while Richard Armstrong prepares to leave the Guggenheim at year’s end, after nearly 15 years as director.

Visitors make their way through a Greek and Roman section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York city on October 17, 2022. Photo by Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images.

Visitors make their way through a Greek and Roman section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York city on October 17, 2022. Photo by Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images.

The rising cost of admission at these cultural institutions—as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which has charged $30 since June, and the Art Institute of Chicago, which raised out-of-state admission to an eye-watering $32 in May—comes as museums are continuing to recover from pandemic-induced closures and the resulting fall in visitor numbers and revenue.

Across New York’s major museums, attendance numbers at the Guggenheim fell by the biggest proportion— 42 percent—down from 1.3 million visitors in 2019 to 750,000 in 2022, according to the Art Newspaper. The institution’s membership was also down nearly 16 percent over the same period.

At its Fifth Avenue flagship, the Met saw a 34 percent drop in visitors, or 1.7 million overall, while the Whitney experienced 19 percent less foot traffic. (The Museum of Modern Art, where admission has been $25 since 2011, had only a 10 percent attendance decrease over those years.)

New York's Whitney Museum of American Art, seen from the High Line. Photo by Nic Lehoux/View Pictures/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, seen from the High Line. Photo by Nic Lehoux/View Pictures/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

The pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 sparked something of a reckoning at museums, many of which pledged to do more to attract and serve diverse audiences—not just the wealthy and educated who have traditionally made up the bulk of their visitor demographics.

The Guggenheim has attempted to address that by offering free admission to families enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and providing a larger number of admissions to the New York Public Library Culture Pass program. It will also offer an extra hour of free entry on Saturday evenings, starting at 5 p.m.


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