Museum Fraud?

I was interested to read about a lawsuit that was recently filed against the Metropolitan Museum of Art alleging that the museum is engaged in deceptive business practices with respect to its “admission” fee.  Access to the museum is essentially free.  But the Museum posts admission fees of various sorts when you walk in.  If you look carefully, then you’ll see that these are “recommended” donations. You must give something to enter the Met under a city ordinance, but you can give any amount that you want (such as $.01).

The problem is that lots of tourists (especially foreign tourists) do not know this.  They think, upon seeing a list of admission fees, that these are mandatory.  And the museum (trust me, I’ve been there many times) does not go out of its way to make things clear.  Does this constitute fraud or violate state law?   Do New Yorkers want to chime in?

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3 Responses

  1. AF says:

    I doubt it’s fraud, but I can attest that the discouragement of paying less than the recommended amount goes beyond not making it clear that the prices are just recommended. You will get a lot of attitude if you try to pay less than the full amount.

  2. George Conk says:

    from the MetMuseum website


    Fee includes same-day admission to the Main Building and The Cloisters museum and gardens. There is no extra charge for entrance to exhibitions.

    Adults $25
    Seniors (65 and older) $17
    Students $12*
    Members (Join Now) Free
    Children under 12 (accompanied by an adult) Free

    To help cover the costs of exhibitions, we ask that you please pay the full recommended amount.

    Fair enough, it seems to me.

  3. David Bernstein says:

    My mom used to take an art class that went into “the city” each week, and the teacher always said to just give a dollar, “they have more money than they know what to do with.” (And indeed, the museum has to keep the vast majority of what it owns in storage, because it has no room to display it–it’s art would get more viewers if a private collector had it in his mansion).