At $10, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston has always had a relatively reasonable entry fee compared to other major art museums across the country.
But after analyzing the museum's earned income data — no doubt affected by the nation's slow economic recovery — MFAH board members have made the tough decision to raise admission in the new year. February will see a jump in membership prices, which haven't changed for eight years.
MFAH board members have made the tough decision to raise admission in the new year. February will see a jump in membership prices, which haven't changed for eight years.
Starting Jan. 1, 2013, the museum will charge $13 for adults, $8 for seniors and $6 for both kids and students. Bayou Bend will charge adults $12.50 for the 60-minute self-guided tour ($11 for seniors and students; $6.25 for children) and $15 for the 90-minute guided tour ($13.50 for seniors and students; $7.50 for children). Film tickets will cost $9 for adults and $7 for students and seniors.
MFAH spokesperson Mary Haus tells CultureMap that the museum's new prices will help offset the ever-increasing expenses for exhibitions and programs while continuing to support an array of free public programs. Overall, the increase will bring the museum in line with other nearby institutions like the Houston Museum of Natural Science, which charges $15 for adults, and the Houston Zoo, which asks $13 for admission.
Small as it is, the rise in price comes just weeks after the Dallas Museum of Art's announcement that it will be eliminating its $10 entry fee altogether — a bold initiative led by recently-appointed DMA director Maxwell Anderson, who dropped admissions at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which he ran from 2006 through 2010. Attendance at the Indianapolis Museum is reported to have doubled once entry prices were gone.
To see how the MFAH compares, here's a look at admissions at the nation's most visited art museums. Keep in mind, almost all these institutions waive entry at least once a month and offer free admission for members.
- Boston Museum of Fine Arts: $25, $23 students/seniors
- Metropolitan Museum of Art: $25, $17 seniors, $12 students (recommended prices)
- MoMA: $25, $14 students/seniors
- Guggenheim (New York): $22, $18 students/seniors
- Philadelphia Museum of Art: $20, $18 seniors, $14 students
- Art Institute of Chicago: $18, $12 students/seniors, free under 14
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: $18, $13 seniors, $11 students
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art: $15, $10 students/seniors, free under 18
- Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth: $10, $4 students/seniors
- Getty Museum: Free, but parking at the hard-to-reach museum is $15
- Smithsonian (National Gallery, Hirchhorn, Portrait Gallery, etc.): Free
The MFAH promises that Thursdays will remain free all day and weekday admission will continue to be waived from noon to 2 p.m. with a receipt from the downstairs Café Express or from one of the food trucks parked in the museum lot. Weekends are free for anyone 18 and under with a Texas public library card.