Metropolitan Museum of Art Changes Admissions Signage in Effort to Settle Lawsuit

It was just a matter of semantics.

Metropolitan Museum. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons.
Metropolitan Museum.
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons.

Just how much does it cost to visit New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art? In a move to settle a three-year-old class action lawsuit that started in 2013, the museum will refine the wording in their “pay what you wish” admission signs. According to a statement from the Met, signs that once listed a “recommended admission” price will now read “suggested admission” instead.

The lawsuit contended that the museum was not legally allowed to charge admission based on its 19th-century agreement with the city, which allows the institution to operate rent-free in exchange for admitting the public for free. The Appellate Division court ruled in the Met’s favor in February 2015, but the plaintiffs still maintained that the posted signs were misleading and suggested an obligatory ticket price.

The revision, which addresses those concerns, will take effect this March, and will be instituted across the museum’s website, self-service ticket kiosks, and admissions desks at all three locations, from the Fifth Avenue flagship and the Cloisters to the new, hotly-anticipated Met Breuer on Madison Avenue. Pending approval by the judge, the change will help finalize a settlement in the case.

Metropolitan Museum of Art.<br>Photo: Flickr Creative Commons.

Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons.

This decision coincides with two other momentous events for the museum next month. As part of their branding campaign, the museum is slated to debut a new logo in March, much to the overwhelming outrage and disappointment of fans. Then there’s the Met Breuer’s debut, with upcoming solo exhibitions by Diane ArbusKerry James Marshall, and Nasreen Mohamedi.

Concerns about this decision’s impact on donations have been voiced by the institution. “As a non-profit,” director and CEO of the museum Thomas P. Campbell said in a statement, “the support the Met receives through admissions contributes to our ongoing operations and programming is critical to our success and greatly appreciated.”

Regarding the change, the Met’s president Daniel Weiss told the New York Times that “this allows us all to move forward.” After all, it’s just a matter of semantics.


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