As you may have heard, on May 23 the admission fees to the Art Institute will increase significantly. Adult entrance will cost $18, up from $12, and student and senior fees will increase to $12 from $7.
The price changes will come into effect exactly one week after the Modern Wing is scheduled to open, but the museum claims that the two things have nothing to do with each other. Museum spokeswoman Erin Hogan says that the increase is designed to help the museum keep up with rising costs in the face of decreasing attendance. She also points out that the Art Institute hasn’t raised their fees in five years, which is technically true, but leaves out that in June 2006 the museum made their suggested donation a mandatory admission fee. Prior to that they had allowed entry to those who didn’t, or couldn’t, pay.
The Chicago Reader offers some excellent background on the decision and the new president who might have further changes in store for the museum. The Time Out Chicago blog defends the decision, but acknowledges that the increase will price some visitors out. The Chicago Art Blog thinks that all museums should be funded by the federal government and free to all. What do you think?