New Met Museum Lease Amendment Supports Admission Fees



New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has new ammunition against a pair of lawsuits protesting “recommended” admission fees.

The museum has signed an amendment to its lease with the city that upholds the 42-year-long arrangement that allows a discretionary admission policy, according to a press release. The museum building sits on city land in Central Park, where it stretches from 80th Street to 84th Street. It pays no rent to the city.

A museum member filed a lawsuit in 2012 that accuses the institution of misleading visitors about how much they have to pay in admission fees, or whether they have to pay at all. The museum has filed a motion to dismiss these suits, and the judge is currently reviewing that motion, Harold Holzer, the museum’s senior vice president for public affairs, told A.i.A. by phone today.

Signs at admission kiosks indicate that admission fees-$25 for adults, $17 for those over 65-are “recommended.” The suit alleges that because the museum’s 1878 lease specified that museum admission should be free, the fees are illegal. The museum counters that it struck a deal in the 1970s that allowed the museum to institute a “pay what you wish” policy.

“This codifies what has to us been a clear intention by the city to allow the museum to have a voluntary admissions policy,” Holzer said. “It’s gratifying since one of the lawsuits makes so much of the lease.”

Holzer added that the amendment was an initiative by the city, not the museum. “We didn’t think it was necessary to have this amendment in order to argue the legal case, since the city had clearly given us written permission over 40 years ago to charge admission,” he said.