While The Metropolitan Museum Of Art [the “MMA”] exists tax- and rent-free on city park land, so do 12 other important institutions, each with a stated admissions policy. Find a “card” to carry with you to always know where New Yorkers are entitled to free admission.
Here is what we know and are sharing with you now:
In addition to the Met, the 12 other institutions existing rent-free on city land are:
- American Museum of Natural History
- Brooklyn Academy of Music
- Brooklyn Botanical Garden
- Brooklyn Children’s Museum
- Brooklyn Museum of Art
- Museum of the City of New York
- New York Botanical Garden
- New York Zoological Society [the Bronx Zoo]
- Queens Science Center/New York Hall of Science
- Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences [Staten Island Museum]
- Staten Island Zoological Society
- Wave Hill
Here is what we know in terms of legal documentation:
American Museum of Natural History [“Natural History”]
Similarly with Ch. 476 of the MMA’s 1893 Law, Ch. 31, states the following in Section 1 regarding Natural History:
American museum of natural history shall be kept open and accessible to the public hereafter free of charge throughout the year for five days in each week, one of which shall be Sunday afternoon, and also two evenings of each week …
This legislation should be reviewed to understand its meaning and whether it has been amended or repealed.
Natural History’s website states its current admissions policy as “Pay-what-you-wish” “available only at ticket counters, where the amount you pay is up to you.” In larger and much darker typeface, the site lists “General Admission” of $23 or $28 or $33 depending on whether or not extra exhibitions and/or shows are included.
Museum of the City of New York
Found in an online Masters Thesis published online and then removed. O’Halloran, Erin. (2003) The Museum of the City of New York and The New York Historical Society: An Analysis of the Cultural Institutions Group [CIG]. Arizona State University.
The Museum must be open to the public for free on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am until ½ an hour before sunset. Mondays and Tuesday is up to the discretion of the Museum. Likewise, Professors and Schoolteachers of public or free schools must be given free access to the collection, libraries or any other vital part of the Museum that may arise. [emphasis added]
The current admissions policy as stated on the website is “Suggested Admission’ of $18 for adults.
New York Botanical Garden [“Botanical Garden”]
Chapter 285 of the Laws of 1891, an Act to establish the botanical garden, states:
The said grounds shall be open and free to the public daily, including Sundays … [emphasis added]
The current admissions policy of the Botanical Garden is that tickets are needed [need to be purchased] for all visitors. There is a grounds-only pass available to NYC residents only for a fee of $15 for adults. Admission is free to everyone regardless of residency all day on Wednesdays and from 9-10 am on Saturdays.
New York Zoological Society [the Bronx Zoo]
Chapter 435 of the Laws of 1895, an Act to incorporate the Zoological Society and to provide for the establishment of a zoological garden states in Section 8:
Admission to the said garden shall be free to the public for at least four days, one of which shall be Sunday, in each week … [emphasis added]
Then, at a March 24, 1897 meeting, a Resolution was reported to have been passed to Ch. 435 allotting South Bronx Park for use of the New York Zoological Society upon conditions entirely satisfactory to the Society and that states as follows:
The said Zoological Garden and its collections shall be free to the public without the payment of any admission fee or gratuity whatsoever for not less than seven hours a day on at least five days of the week, one of which shall be Sunday and also on all legal holidays and half holidays … [emphasis added]
In addition, it stated that
… the portion of the ground situate each of the Boston Road and all the Bronx River below the Boston Road bridge shall be open to the public at all times as pleasure grounds …”
The current admissions policy of the Bronx Zoo as stated on their website is that there is Winter Total Experience admission fee of $28.95 for adults..
Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences [Staten Island Museum]
Chapter 526 of the Laws of 1905, an Act to incorporate the Staten Island association of arts and sciences and to provide for the care and housing of its museum and library by the city of New York, states the following in Section 8:
The museum, collection and library of the said Staten Island association of arts and sciences shall be open and free to the public at all reasonable times … [emphasis added]
The current admissions policy as stated on the Staten Island Museum website is a Suggested Admission of $8 for adults.
ADMISSIONS POLICY OF THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART FOR NON-NEW YORKERS
The MMA changed its admissions policy in March of 2018 to charge a fee to visitors from outside New York state. The fee is a mandatory one of $25 for adults. Please see the About Us section on this website for further information. However, this policy change does not render the MMA compliant with contracts and NYS law.
With a non-New Yorker admission fee, which FA agrees the MMA can charge, it is in the MMA's economic interest to be compliant. Why, FA wonders, do MMA trustees and administrations and City and State leaders continue to ignore this economic truth?
As noted in About Us, FA has calculated that if the MMA were to charge a non-New Yorker $10 fee, the MMA could collect $14 Million more than its current “pay as you wish” policy provides. And if the MMA received $25 per visitor [the current adult fee] from visitors from outside of New York State, it would receive an astounding $93.7 Million in additional admissions fee income – and that’s with all NYers entering free of charge, five days and two evenings in the week, in compliance with the law and vision of 19th century statesmen and the MMA's Founding Fathers.
FA supports, and clearly MMA trustees and administrators and City and State leaders should support, a compliant MMA. FA's calculations demonstrate a compliant MMA is a clear win-win and legally responsible antidote to the MMA’s much-publicized “red ink” operating costs – at least as of now in 2018.