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Megan Conn

Dallas Museum of Art takes bold step of offering free general admission AND free member... - 0 views

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    Free memberships, points, badges... good stuff from the DMA
Ruth Cuadra

Museum Audience Insight: Free Admission Days and Daily Deals - 1 views

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    about deals - "It also trains the consumer to wait for deals instead of supporting places outright, and with that mentality, we all lose." Food for thought.
Ariane Karakalos

The Cost of "Free": Admission Fees at American Art Museums - 0 views

  • Museum theorists such as Elaine Heumann Gurian point out that admission fees may be the single biggest obstacle preventing museums from fulfilling their missions as educational institutions that are open and accessible to the widest range of visitors from all income levels and backgrounds. But is the financial position of most art museums so precarious that the 5 percent of operating budget provided by admissions fees is indispensable to the survival of the institution? Is there a middle ground between free admission and a standard entrance fee?
  • Potential visitors—especially families with children—are often concerned about the financial costs associated with a museum visit, such as transportation, parking and lunch. As the costs have risen, visitors expect greater value for their admission dollars.
  • Many of us have visited museums and seen the words “suggested donation” or “recommended amount” next to the admission fees. The actual amount collected per visitor is often significantly lower than the suggested amount
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  • he Art Institute of Chicago switched from free Tuesdays to free Thursday evenings, from 5-8 p.m.
  • At the time of this writing, there is not much more than anecdotal evidence available on the desired result of racially and ethnically diverse visitors during free evening hours, but the Art Institute of Chicago has every reason to believe its change in free hours achieved this. “We had Chicagoans in the museum who reported that it was their first-ever visit,” Lee said. “We had parents telling us that they were grateful that the free hours allowed them to easily bring their children after work. We had more visitors per free hour than we did when the free hours were on Tuesdays.
  • the competing priorities of ideology, practicality and economics. By designating periods of free admission to attract the infrequent visitor, museums can more easily justify charging an entrance fee on a regular basis
  • Cool Culture, an inventive nonprofit formed in 1999, has created a family pass to 71 cultural institutions in New York City. The pass is intended for low-income families, and the program’s primary clients are Head Start and other subsidized child-care centers. Two-thirds of participants have household incomes below the federal poverty line.
  • Although transportation is not provided, participants can visit at any time and return as many times as they wish.
  • Cool Culture’s success is in the numbers: Families who have the Cool Culture Pass are four times more likely to visit a museum than families without the pass, according to Linda Steele, executive director.    
  • one might logically conclude that museums with no admission fee will attract larger audiences and thus have a better chance at earning more revenue within the museum: more visitors, more sales in shops or restaurants. Upon closer scrutiny, this assumption may not be true.
  • museum visitors who did not pay an admission fee were likely to spend even less on additional goods or services than the average visitor who paid a fee to enter, even they were not museum members.
  • responses from museums of various sizes, settings and budgets. The most commonly mentioned benefits of free admission were service to the community and accessibility to a more diverse audience. Increased exposure, attendance and public relations opportunities also ranked high, as did improved opportunities for individual, corporate and foundation support. The primary drawbacks were lost revenue and the inability to build a membership base. Security concerns also figured prominently.
  • Do Not Touch” signs in art exhibitions. Of the 15 responding museums that offered limited free admission days or hours, more than half reported a significant difference in visitor demographics: seniors, large family groups, school groups, disabled persons and drug or alcohol recovery groups were most likely to attend at these times. Museums in Seattle, Scottsdale, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay area all reported an increase in student visitors on free admission days. Sue Cake, a longtime docent at the Oakland Museum of California, observed that free admission days enabled teachers to assign a museum visit as part of a class lesson, likely a factor for increased student visitation at many museums.
  • can discount or waive admission fees on a case-by-case basis. “The experience should have value like a movie, going out to eat, a concert or any other leisure-time activity,” said Deputy Director Amy Oppio. “It is . . . important for guests to believe in supporting the organization and its mission.” 
  • Not all respondents shared Oppio’s view. One of the survey questions asked about the ideal admission fee structure. Of the 24 museums that responded to this question, 30 percent said that free admission is the way to go. Midge Bowman, executive director of the Frye Art Museum, responded that art museums “should be free as public libraries are. Without this open admission, they remain elitist institutions.”
  • ents we write and the act of imposing an entry fee,” she wrote. “Museums, if they remain oriented toward their paying customers will not . . . feel motivated to become essential elements within the community and an important educational resource for all individuals wishing to learn.”
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