You know those lawsuits claiming that the Metropolitan Museum of Art shouldn't be asking for a "suggested admission" fee of $25? Because of an old city statute? Now a NY State Supreme Court has ruled on the side of the museum, finding that the Met can indeed make all of us pay to see masterpieces.
The plaintiffs had argued that the Met's policy of suggested fees violated an 1878 lease with the city (as well as a State appropriations act from 1893). But now the Met can do as many Groupons as it wants—Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich pointed out that the Met doesn't really force anyone to pay, "For those without means, or those who do not wish to express their gratitude financially, a de minimis contribution of a penny is accepted Admission to the Met is de facto free for all." ArtsBeat reports, "To end the suggested admission practice — visitors pay, on average, around $11 of the full $25 suggested fee — would cut a large portion of the museum’s budget and undermine its mission to provide access and educate the public, she added."
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's spokesman Harold Holzer said:
The Met is delighted with the ruling and trusts this decision once and for all validates its longtime pay-what-you wish admissions policy—which, as the judge has declared, guarantees fairness and access for visitors of all economic means.
In describing the Museum’s existing admissions policy, the judge said: “All members of the public can afford to visit the Museum under the present scheme.”
The court also made reference to the recent lease amendment executed by the Museum and the City of New York, noting that “not only does it not alter the analysis in this decision, if anything, it bolsters the court’s ruling.”
Last week, the city amended its agreement with the Met, clarifying that the museum can charge admission. However, according to ArtBeat, the part of the lawsuits saying that the institution misleads visitors into thinking they must pay will continue on.