Price hike! Brooklyn Museum raises its ‘suggested’ donation

Price hike! Brooklyn Museum raises its ‘suggested’ donation
The Brooklyn Paper / Julie Rosenberg

The cash-strapped Brooklyn Museum has increased its “suggested” admission fee to $12, a 20-percent jump caused by the poor economy, Museum officials said last Thursday night.

The announcement comes on the heels of the Museum’s elimination of its popular Friday night hours; and the high-profile cancellation of a major spring 2012 exhibition, “Art in the Streets,” a controversial show that chronicles the history of graffiti and street art.

“The financial climate is such that we unfortunately need to raise the prices of suggested admission to cover the costs of operation — presenting exhibits, personnel, a whole range of things,” said Museum spokeswoman Sally Williams. “But it’s suggested, so visitors can pay what they want, but we’re suggesting they pay $2 more.”

The recent cutbacks are consistent with the financial crush the Museum has been experiencing since 2009 when, due to a $23 million loss in city funding over a three-year period, it cut staff, offered buyouts to its 281 full-time employees, and slashed salaries.

In raising fees, the Museum is following the lead of institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, which raised its suggested donation in July from $20 to $25, also blaming the economy.

Williams said that a $2 increase would not dissuade anyone from coming to the Museum, claiming that the last such increase — from $8 to $10 in 2009 — did not cause a drop in visits.

In 2011, 409,561 people visited the Museum, compared to 377,069 in 2010, 65 percent of whom paid the full admission price, Williams said, though according to the New York Times, visitors decreased by 23 percent between 2008 and 2009, and a quarter of Brooklyn Museum visitors were there for free events.

“It has nothing to do with attendance. We’re always refreshing and maintaining our collections, and we do an amazing array of public programs for adults and kids,” she said. “This price hike is a fairly straightforward thing.”

Despite the hike, many residents are willing to shell out two extra dollars and pay full-price for admission to the Brooklyn Museum, which is still cheaper than many other cultural institutions.

“We go to the Met, and it’s $25,” said Bob Higgins, who lives in Manhattan and was visiting the museum last Friday afternoon with his wife. “$12 is a bargain. We both gave them $20.”

Park Slope resident Michelle Radtke also expressed willingness to pay full-price — that is, if it will enable Museum improvements.

“I would still pay $12,” she said. “If it costs a little more to have better exhibits, I think it’s worth it.”

But others see it differently.

“$12 is kind of steep to go to the Brooklyn Museum,” said Alison Ladman, who lives in Manhattan. “I’d pay no more than $8.

Reach Arts Editor Juliet Linderman at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-8309.