The new Metropolitan Museum of Art policy to charge an admission fee to non-New York residents came into effect yesterday.
The Met has installed 14 self-service kiosks in its lobby for those who need to pay the fee. Visitors can also get tickets from roaming staff members with iPads. The museum has also brought in additional staff and volunteers to facilitate queues and direct visitors to ticket locations.
Signage has been installed explaining the new policy at entrances to the museum as well as at the Met Breuer and the Cloisters.
More than 2,000 employees that work in security, retail and ticketing have been trained in customer service techniques as well as communications and technical issues.
“We worked very hard for it not to be bumpy,” Daniel Weiss, the Met’s president and CEO told the New York Times. “We’ll get better at it. We’re going to do everything we can to welcome people and move them through.”
The Met will not be strict in enforcing the new policy to start with, according to the Times. If the museum finds visitors consistently fail to pay, then stricter measures will be introduced.
“We always have the option to make the policy more stringent,” Weiss added.
The new policy has been introduced to address the museum’s budget problems. According to the Met, the new policy will impact 31% of its visitors. Admission fees currently provide 14% ($43m) of the museum’s $305m operating budget. The figure is expected to increase to approximately $49m with the policy change.
However, New York City will be reducing its annual subsidy to the Met in response to the change. While the $15m from the city to cover energy costs will remain intact, the $11m the museum receives to cover staff and security expenses will decline on a sliding scale depending on how much revenue the admission charge generates.
Image: c. Kai Pilger.