July 5, 2018; New York Times
Even with all the controversy swirling around museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art appears to be having a banner year. Prior to the implementation in March of a new mandatory admission fee for museum-goers from outside New York, the Met increased its visitor numbers from 7 million last year to a record 7.35 million visitors this fiscal year ending June 30. Its revenue also increased by seven percent, although this includes an $80 million gift from Florence Irving, a trustee, and her late husband, Herbert Irving. All good, for the moment, anyway.
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This, of course, provides only around three months of data and should be put in context of record-breaking attendance for “Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer,” but Daniel H. Weiss, the Met’s outgoing president and chief executive, says, “There is no evidence of any diminution in visitor numbers…Revenues are hitting the targets that we set—I think people understand it.” Perhaps this one is too early to call, though Weiss’ role is shifting this August to focus more on these practical concerns. NPQ has covered the issue of museum admission fees extensively over the past few years, with a particular focus on the Met’s struggle with regulators and public perceptions. We’d be inclined to wait to declare victory.—Ruth McCambridge