The New York Times seems to have split personality when it comes to the Met. The paper’s news report actively undermined director Thomas Campbell for his failure to keep the museum’s finances on track. It cheered the installation of experienced leadership with a focus on generating revenues. And the story announcing the new compromise on admissions is sympathetic and supportive of the institution.
Remember that the museum’s admission policy is a historical accident (not unlike the Detroit Institute of Art’s situation where the city itself had a direct interest in the museum’s collection.) Searching for a compromise between the constraints of New York law and the economic needs of the museum, the new management under Daniel Weiss has made this particular move:
The required fee was borne of economic necessity, Mr. Weiss said, and is related to a planned decline to New York City funds to the institution. Over the last 13 years, even as attendance has soared from 4.7 million visitors to 7 million, the Met has seen a steep decline in the proportion of visitors who pay the full suggested amount, from 63 percent to 17 percent.
Met admission fees provide 14 percent of its $305 million operating budget, or $43 million, which Mr. Weiss said puts the Met at the low end among its peers. That figure is expected to increase to 16 or 17 percent — or $49 million — with the policy change. […]
The Met currently receives about $26 million from the city. Under the new admissions policy, the $15 million that goes toward energy costs like heat and light will remain in tact; the remaining $11 million which offsets the Met’s operating costs (for security and building staff) will reduce on a sliding scale after the first full year, depending on how much incremental revenue the new admissions policy generates, with a cap at $3 million.
Met Changes 50-Year Admissions Policy: Non-New Yorkers Must Pay (The New York Times)