Friday 22 March 2013

Trying to make the MET pay

Ever been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City - better known as the MET? Did you pay to get in? Did you know you didn't have to? I have to admit the first time I went it was not clear that the entrance fee was not compulsory. It was only on a subsequent visit that I was asked what I wanted to pay that I realised that I had a choice. It turns out this is not uncommon. However, some appear to have had a more extreme reaction than myself.

Reuters reports that:
... a lawsuit filed on Tuesday against the museum complains that most museum-goers have no idea that the "recommended" $25 entrance fee is nothing more than a suggestion.

The plaintiffs include a member of the museum, along with two Czech tourists who purchased single-day admissions. They argue the museum employs misleading signs and other techniques to dupe its 6 million annual visitors into believing they must pay to gain access.

The museum's rent-free lease with the city mandates that it open its doors to the public for free on multiple days a week, although it is permitted to ask for a voluntary fee. But the lawsuit says the museum deliberately deceives its visitors into believing that the charge is mandatory.

Signs above the admissions desk that list the entrance fees feature the word "recommended" in small type below the word "admissions" in larger, bold type. The lawsuit also pointed out that visitors are funneled in lines to the admissions desks, where cashiers await to collect the fee.

"MMA has misled, and regularly misleads, members of the general public to believe, on all days of the week during times when the MMA is open, that they are required to pay the Admission Fees in order to enter Museum Exhibition Halls," the lawsuit claimed.

... [The] complaint asks for an injunction [requiring the museum to make its policy clearer to visitors] as well as unspecified damages for all museum visitors who, like the three named plaintiffs, paid to enter with a credit card.
This is the second lawsuit filed against the MET challenging its admission fee. Back in November 2012, two members of the MET (represented by the same counsel as this latest claim) brought a very similar claim for consumer fraud, and for charging unlawful admission fees in violation of New York State law.

A spokesperson for the MET says that the claims are unsustainable. It remains to be seen what the court thinks.

Source: Reuters, 5 March 2013, New York Post, 15 November 2012

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Knowing this policy some times when I just want to wander around the museum I haven't paid any thing...and the trouble you get from the "guards" for not having a little 'pin' is quite a lot. You really have to insist on your right to continue in!