How Much Is the Public Paying to See a Fair? We’ve Ranked 22 of the World’s Top Art Events, From Most to Least Pricey
Ahead of Frieze Week in London, we take a look at what the public pays to enter some of the world's top fairs.
A half-dozen fairs, including Frieze London and Frieze Masters, are opening across London this week. Many of the ultra-wealthy VIPs, strangely, will get in for free via comped admission—but for your average Joe or Jane, entrance to these rarefied aisles is a different proposition entirely.
Some fair admission prices are notoriously steep, like those at Art Basel, where visitors pay more than $60 to enter the Swiss convention center. Others, like Independent, keep ticket prices low or even free.
Yet it is pricey to run a big event, and ticket sales can make up a good chunk of the bottom line for some fairs. Admissions at Art Basel contribute between 10 and 15 percent of total revenue, according to the fair.
But that’s not true for everyone. Michael Plummer, who helped bring the Dutch fair TEFAF to New York, says that admission is not particularly significant to its overall revenue—despite the fact that his event is among the priciest to visit. This is due to the space constraints in the fair’s tony Park Avenue venue and “the high proportion of gratis VIP attendees to general admission paid attendees,” he said.
Each fair has its own unique calculus. “The idea behind admission prices is to remain accessible and affordable to all visitors,” an official from the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair tells artnet News.
Some fairs price their tickets to appeal to a local audience. A spokesperson for Turkey’s preeminent fair Contemporary Istanbul tells artnet News that prices “reflect the purchasing power of Turkish people,” with a relative entrance fee that costs the same as two movie tickets (not a bad deal to see 80 galleries from 20 countries).
So how do the world’s big fairs stack up against each other? We examined ticket prices for 22 fairs (and converted them into US dollars for consistency and ease of reading). We have ranked them according to the price for walk-in visitors, from most to least expensive.
Art, it turns out, isn’t the only thing that will cost you money—seeing it at a fair can set you back a pretty penny, too.
WHAT: The world’s foremost modern and contemporary art fair.
COST: Full price admission is CHF 60 ($61) on site and CHF 50 ($51) online. Students and seniors pay CHF 40 ($41).
VISITOR NUMBERS: In 2017, the fair brought in a whopping 95,000 people.
Art Basel Miami Beach
WHAT: The Miami Beach outpost of the preeminent Swiss fair.
COST: Day tickets could be purchased for $50 online last year; tickets on-site cost a whopping $60.
VISITOR NUMBERS: In 2017, the fair attracted 82,000 people.
TEFAF New York
WHAT: The New York outpost of TEFAF Maastricht that takes place annually in Spring and Fall.
COST: Day tickets cost $55. Multiple entry admission is $75 (students pay $25).
VISITOR NUMBERS: Undisclosed.
Art Basel Hong Kong
$51 / $38
WHAT: Art Basel’s Hong Kong outpost, now entering its seventh edition in 2019.
COST: On the Thursday, ABHK charges visitors HKD 250 ($32) if they buy online and HKD 300 ($38) at the door. On the Friday and Saturday of the fair, entry costs HKD 350 ($45) if bought online and HKD 400 ($51) in person.
VISITOR NUMBERS: In 2018, Art Basel Hong Kong attracted 80,000 people over its five-day run.
Frieze London/Frieze Masters
WHAT: Tickets to London’s annual fair of modern and contemporary art and its more historically focused sister.
COST: A one-day ticket for either Frieze London or Frieze Masters costs £38.70 ($50.50). A combined ticket to both fairs will run you £64.50 ($84). Students pay £28 ($37) for a ticket to either Frieze London or Frieze Masters.
VISITOR NUMBERS: 60,000 to Frieze London and Frieze Masters combined.
Frieze New York
WHAT: The fair presents a curated program of talks, performances, and new artist commissions alongside a packed tent full of modern and contemporary art on Randall’s Island.
COST: $48 general admission; $27 student ticket.
VISITOR NUMBERS: 44,000 visitors attended Frieze New York in 2017.
WHAT: TEFAF is regarded as the world’s preeminent organization of fine art, antiques, and design. This is its flagship event in the Netherlands.
COST: A day ticket with a catalogue costs €40 ($47). For children ages 12 to 18, a ticket costs €20 ($23).
VISITORS: Last year, TEFAF Maastricht welcomed around 68,000 visitors.
The Armory Show
WHAT: Founded in 1994 and staged on Manhattan’s Piers 92 & 94, the Armory Show is New York City’s leading art fair, featuring international galleries selling 20th and 21st century art.
COST: $47 general admission, or $65 with VOLTA admission; $80 run of show.
VISITOR NUMBERS: Over 65,000 visitors annually.
WHAT: A cross-collecting fair offering works of art, design, furniture and jewelry from antiquity to the present day.
COST: General admission is £35 ($47).
VISITOR NUMBERS: The 2017 fair drew a record 44,000 visitors, including 8,500 for the preview alone.
WHAT: A selection of modern art, contemporary art, and design galleries presented in Paris’s historic Grand Palais.
COST: Full-price admission is €38 ($45); students and holders of the Louvre Jeunes or Louvre Professionals cards pay a reduced price of €25 ($29).
VISITOR NUMBERS: The 2017 edition of the fair welcomed 73,910 people over its five-day run with an additional 12,574 VIP guests.
Seattle Art Fair
WHAT: Modern and contemporary art served up for the Pacific Northwest.
COST: A one-day ticket costs $30. Access to the opening-night preview, all public days, and the full slate of projects and talks will run you $85.
VISITOR NUMBERS: In 2017, the fair welcomed 20,000 visitors.
WHAT: The world’s oldest art fair presenting art from the 20th and 21st centuries.
COST: Admission is €25 ($29) on site, and €21.25 ($25) in advance online; reduced tickets for students, seniors, apprentices, and the handicapped is €20 ($24). Entry to the vernissage is €55 ($65) at the fair, and €45.75 ($53) online.
VISITOR NUMBERS: 55,000 visitors this year.
1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair London
WHAT: A fair devoted to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora.
COST: Admission is £20 ($26), and £15 ($19.50) for students, seniors, and people with disabilities.
VISITOR NUMBERS: In 2017, the fair welcomed 17,000 guests.
Dallas Art Fair
WHAT: Texas’s 10-year-old modern and contemporary art fair.
COST: A day pass goes for $25; seniors and students pay $20.
VISITOR NUMBERS: More than 17,500.
ADAA Art Show
WHAT: Art Dealers Association of America is a nonprofit membership organization of around 180 galleries, with an annual art show in New York City.
COST: Full price admission is $25 per day. Fair admissions from the all fair days go to benefit the Henry Street Settlement, a nonprofit social services organization.
VISITOR NUMBERS: Undisclosed.
WHAT: A contemporary art fair focusing on young talent that just celebrated its 50th edition in 2018.
COST: At the door, visitors pay €20 ($23); online presale tickets cost €16 ($19); admission jumps to €18 ($21) during the fair. Want to attend the vernissage? It’s €50 ($58), or €90 ($104) for two people.
VISITOR NUMBERS: The 2018 edition welcomed 24,000 visitors.
WHAT: The newly founded Art Berlin is a partnership between abc art berlin contemporary and Art Cologne.
COST: Day tickets go for €18 ($21); concession-priced tickets are €12 ($14), and tickets to the vernissage cost €36 ($42).
VISITOR NUMBERS: Undisclosed.
WHAT: Italy’s main contemporary art fair, founded in 1994.
COST: Full-price tickets set you back €18 ($21). There are €13 ($15) reduced price tickets for children ages 12 to 18, people over 65, university students with a valid ID, and soldiers in uniform. The fair also offers free entry for disabled people, with assistance. A full three-day pass costs €30 ($35).
VISITOR NUMBERS: In 2017, 52,000 people descended on the fair.
WHAT: A contemporary and modern art fair for the Midwest and beyond.
COST: A day pass costs $20, seniors and students are eligible for $5 off tickets if bought on site. A special preview ticket with added benefits goes for $125; proceeds benefit the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
VISITOR NUMBERS: The sixth edition of the fair saw record attendance at 40,000.
WHAT: The New Art Dealers Alliance is a nonprofit collective of professionals working with contemporary art that stages an annual fair in Miami (NADA recently discontinued its annual New York Fair).
COST: Full price admission is $20 for a single day. Students and seniors pay $10.
VISITOR NUMBERS: NADA Miami 2017 saw some 15,000 visitors
WHAT: A fair for contemporary art, modern art, and limited-edition design in Milan.
COST: Day tickets cost €15 ($18), with presale tickets going for €12 ($14). There are reduced tickets for visitors ages 14 to 17 and university students that sell for €10 ($12). Students at the School of Fine Arts pay only €1 to enter.
VISITORS: 45,000 visitors in 2018.
1-54 New York
WHAT: The New York edition of the African contemporary art fair.
COST: Entry to the fair costs $15, or $10 for students, seniors, and people with disabilities.
VISITOR NUMBERS: 9,000 people in 2018.
WHAT: Contemporary Istanbul is the leading annual art fair in Turkey.
COST: Entry costs 60 TL ($10) for the first two days of the fair, and increases to 70 TL for the weekend fair hours. Reduced tickets for students cost only 40 TL ($7) and 45 TL ($8) respectively.
VISITOR NUMBERS: Contemporary Istanbul welcomed around 80,000 visitors last fall.
WHAT: The Moroccan edition of the African contemporary art fair.
COST: For its inaugural edition earlier this year, admission was free.
VISITOR NUMBERS: The first edition of the fair saw 4,000 attendees.
WHAT: The Belgian offshoot of Independent New York.
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