The Guggenheim Museum will raise its admission for adults to $30, making it one of the most expensive art institutions in New York—and one of priciest in the U.S. overall.
The move to do so, first reported on Tuesday by The New York Times, came not long after the Whitney Museum made a similar announcement, revealing that it would bump adult ticket prices from $25 to $30 in mid-July. Just one other art museum in New York costs that amount: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where out-of-state visitors have had to pay $30 for general admission since last year.
Not many institutions in the U.S. charge that much to enter, although there are a few that cost even more. The Art Institute of Chicago, for example, charges $32 for general admission, and has done so since April of this year. Chicagoans, meanwhile, can enter that museum for free.
Museums have tended to explain admission price hikes in relation to a shifting economic climate. When the Whitney did so in July, it said in its announcement that the move was needed to “keep the institution and its mission to support art and artists strong in a landscape acutely changed by a variety of factors, including inflation, rising costs, and still-recovering attendance.”
Speaking to The New York Times, a Guggenheim spokesperson cited “lingering financial strain caused by the pandemic” as the museum’s reason for raising admission fees for the first time since 2015. But the statement also said, “The new rates align with those of the museum community in New York City and will help support the operational costs of the museum.”
The Museum of Modern Art currently offers $25 general admission tickets, while the New Museum costs $18. The Brooklyn Museum charges $25 for ticketed exhibitions, and its listed $16 general admission price is a suggested contribution. Other institutions outside Manhattan, such as the Bronx Museum and the Queens Museum, are free to enter.
Dampened pandemic-era attendance figures have also been cited by museums that have raised admission fees. In 2022, Artnet News reported that initially rising attendance figures from 2021 had not translated to pre-pandemic numbers in the year afterward for more than a dozen museums surveyed.
Some have claimed that raising admission fees makes museums more exclusive. In 2018, when the Met tossed out its beloved pay-what-you-wish policy for out-of-towners, critic Jerry Saltz wrote that the museum “willfully threw a piece of its greatness away.”
In making those arguments, many have pointed to data suggesting that admission fees do not account for a large part of most museums’ annual revenue. According to an Association of Art Museum Directors report from 2018, admission provided just 7 percent of annual revenue on average.