Monday, March 16, 2009

Once Again: When, How, Why and Whether to Raise Admissions

So, I've noticed out there that a number of museums are raising their admission prices, including, according to the Chicago Tribune, the venerable Art Institute in Chicago.

Given the present economic climate and the constant need for unrestricted operational funds for museums, this is not a terribly surprising move. But what I wonder is how the public will react. With most people tightening their belts right now and unemployment rates sky rocketing, spending is already focused more on the "essentials" rather than the "extras." Sadly, museums tend to fall into the latter category.

But wait, in the Great Depression, didn't movies do well? Despairing people seeking a little escapism shelled out the nickle to go forget their own troubles for a little while. Well, movies are certainly one of the leisure-time competitors faced by museums. What are the movies doing? Are they raising their admissions? Would it make more sense right now for museums to *lower* their admissions or offer more free days in order to raise visitorship?

I'm really not sure what the answer is here, but I will be curious to see what happens to the visitorship of those museums raising their prices--and to see whether or not movies raise theirs.

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