ARTS & CULTURE
03/11/2013 04:06 pm ET Updated Mar 11, 2013

Met Museum Sued: Unhappy Patrons Take Arts Center To Court Over 'Recommended' Fees

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has once again been sued. In a new lawsuit, two unhappy art patrons accuse the venerable institution of deceiving visitors with its "recommended" $25 entrance fee for adults.

The plaintiffs -- including two Czech tourists and a museum member -- are taking particular issue with the Met's signage, claiming that the New York monument is misleading people into thinking they have to pay for admission rather than voluntarily give a donation. According to Reuters, the plaintiffs believe most visitors have no idea that you can get into the museum for free.

The suit is similar to a complaint filed last year by two other angry museum-goers who felt that the word "recommended" appeared too small on the ticket booth signs. In their case, Theodore Grunewald and Patricia Nicholson demanded the courts ban the museum from collecting any fees at all, according to the New York Times, citing a survey which found that 85 % of nonmembers polled (out of a pool of 360 visitors) thought entry fees were required.

"There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that, as reflected in the complaint filed today...an overwhelming majority of people who visit the museum are completely fooled into believing that they are required to pay the museum's admission fees; and ... museum officials know all about it," Michael Hiller, the lawyer representing the most recent batch of plaintiffs, told Reuters.

The $25 recommended fee, a hike from the 2010 suggested donation of $20, applies to all adults (seniors are to pay $17 and children are granted free access when accompanied by an adult). The arrangement fits New York City stipulations which require that the Met offers free admission to the public on multiple days of the week. As we might expect from the man who called called the previous lawsuit "frivolous," Met Spokesman Harold Holzer characterized the latest complaint as a "second attempt for publicity around the same baseless lawsuit that was filed a few months ago," according to New York Magazine.

What do you think, readers? Is the Met knowingly deceiving the public with its tiny print? And what about the suggested entrance fee? Should a recommended admission price be more than the cost of a movie ticket? Compare the Met's pricing to other museum's across the country in the slideshow below.

UPDATE: The Met's Senior Vice President of External Affairs, Harold Holzer, stated to The Huffington Post in an email:

"It is really an extension of the same lawsuit -- the same attorneys, another small group of complainants, and the same unsustainable charges. The fact is, we clearly post our pay-what-you wish admission policy, we have not been free to the public for more than 30 years with the consent of the City, and we do unapologetically hope our visitors can pay as much as they afford. The days of large city operating subsidies have long gone. It costs the Museum some $41 for each visitor who comes through the door, and the generosity of those who come here helps to fund free visits by N. Y. C school students, the largest art publishing program in America, a website that reaches tens of millions annually with art education, and no extra charges ever for special exhibitions -- rather unique among our sister institutions who also receive city funding. Free admission was conceived of 150 years ago for an entirely government-subsidized institution, like the Smithsonian. There is no model for this kind of operation any more. The city contributes $10 million of a $240 million-dollar-budget. We rely on many crucial revenue streams to maintain our building, preserve, protect, exhibit, and publish our collections, and mount up to 25 shows a year. This lawsuit flies in the face of reality and the huge amount of responsibility and work we have in the service of our collections and our visitors."

PHOTO GALLERIES
Museum Admission Fees Across The Country

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