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Met Museum Admission Policy: Director Thomas P. Campbell Defends Pay-What-You-Will Standard

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art, that well-known behemoth of the New York City art scene, has been the subject of some not-so-favorable press in recent months. After not one, but two lawsuits filed by unhappy patrons contesting the institute's "recommended" admission fee policy, the museum has posted a strongly worded response on its website

In the lengthy statement, director Thomas P. Campbell defends the pay-what-you-will standard that's been in use since the 1970s (one that, for the record, prompts but does not require visitors to pay a suggested fee of $25) and attempts to debunk some of the rumors that have been floating around since the museum was first accused of fraud last year.

Here's a quick review of Campbell's primary points:

1. The Met's pay-what-you-will policy does not violate any present city mandate, so don't hold some 19th century law requiring public institutions to grant free access against them.

2. The "recommended" nature of the policy is clearly posted at all entry points, on the website and in printed materials, so don't argue that it's not.

3. The cost of operating the Met has increased since the 1970s, so be happy that special exhibits are still open to everyone.

4. The museum provides free group entry to New York City school students (which, to be fair, is a pretty great perk).

5. The Met is going to expand its hours starting this summer, opening its doors seven days a week, which isn't cheap.

6. The average cost of a visit is actually about $40 per person, from the Met's point of view.

Campbell closes his letter with this quote:

"Does the Met hope its visitors pay as generously as they can? Of course! Without your generosity, we might still be the quaint little museum in the park that few visited in the 1880s -- with none of the glorious new galleries and engaging programs we are now able to provide to the more than six million people who come through our doors each year."

What do you think, readers? Would the Met -- which boasts an operating budget of $250 million a year -- be a "quaint" institute without your support?

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