The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago Is Lowering Admission Prices for Those Affected by the Gender Pay Gap

The new pricing will take effect next month, just after the museum opens a retrospective of feminist photographer Laurie Simmons's work.

Laurie Simmons, The Love Doll/Day 23 (Kitchen) (2010). Photo courtesy the artist and Salon 94.
Laurie Simmons, The Love Doll/Day 23 (Kitchen) (2010). Photo courtesy the artist and Salon 94.

In an effort to combat the gender pay gap in the US—which sees full-time women workers making only a fraction of the salaries of their male counterparts—the MCA Chicago will introduce a new pricing tier with discounted admission.

Starting next month, anyone who believes that the gender pay gap has negatively impacted their earning potential can pay a $12 admission fee, rather than the full price of $15. The 81 percent cost differential represents the wage gap, in which the average woman only takes home 81 cents for every dollar earned by a man, but still has to pay the same prices for goods and services. The gap is even wider for black, Asian, and Latina women.

The MCA’s adjusted ticket pricing effectively calls out that disparity, signaling a demand for equal pay for equal work.

The museum will roll out the new pricing structure on February 24, just after the opening of the traveling retrospective “Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera,” and keep the reduced ticket prices in effect for the duration of its run, through May 5. The exhibition of the acclaimed feminist photographer’s work is organized by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, where it is on view through January 27. (On the show’s opening day, February 23, the MCA will be free to the public, regardless of sex.)

The idea is the brainchild of MCA director Madeleine Grynsztejn and was announced by curator Naomi Beckwith at a preview for Simmons’s show and the museum’s upcoming Virgil Abloh exhibition.

The museum has been engaging issues of parity and equality in recent years. On the occasion of Howardena Pindell’s 2018 survey, “What Remains to Be Seen,” the institution revisited the artist’s work of the 1980s and ’90s, in which she researched the demographics of artists exhibited in New York museums and galleries. For the show, the surveys were undertaken again, revealing that, as with the gender pay gap, the situation for women has improved in recent decades, but that there is still considerable work to be done before museums achieve equality.


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