Mayor Bloomberg had little sympathy yesterday for New Yorkers who find the new $20 admission to the Museum of Modern Art a bit steep.
“Some things people can afford, some things people can’t,” said Bloomberg, whose estimated personal fortune is $4.9 billion.
“MoMA is a private institution. It’s not a city institution. And they have a right to set their own pricing policies.”
Over the past five years, the city funneled $65 million in taxpayer money to help fund MoMA’s expansion.
Despite the taxpayers’ contribution, Bloomberg – who was in last week’s Forbes 400 list of richest Americans – said the city should not be involved in “pressuring” private groups about fees. Besides, he said, there are plenty to choose from. “If you can’t afford [admissions] at any one, you can go to another one,” he said.
Ed Skyler, Bloomberg’s press secretary, later offered a tamer response. “MoMA is a great institution, and it would be incredibly disappointing if this increase prevented people from enjoying it,” he said.
MoMA will reopen Nov. 20. The price of an adult ticket, which was $12, will now be $20. Ruth Kaplan, a spokeswoman for MoMA, noted that admission is free from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays.
MoMA’s price hike, and its potential effects on the culture of museumgoing in America, will be discussed endlessly in the art world in the weeks and months to come, and rightly so. But I think we can all agree on one thing: Mayor Bloomberg just earned himself a swift kick in the crotch for his personal contribution to the ongoing debate. (Not in the head–that wouldn’t hurt him one bit.)
P.S. From the Floor has a thoughtful discussion of what the MoMA price hike might mean over the long haul. It’s definitely worth a look.