New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art is raising the amount it asks visitors to pay from $20 to $25, saying it needs the increase because its endowment has shrunk and museum-goers are throwing less money into the till.
Visitors to the museum can technically pay whatever they want under a longstanding agreement with the New York City government, which owns the building and helps cover overhead costs. But the museum sets a suggested admission price, and visitors are encouraged to pay it. The new prices were announced Friday.
The average donation has declined 16 cents in the last year, spokesman Harold Holzer said. He declined to disclose the amount, saying the museum does not want to encourage visitors to pay less.
Each visitor costs the museum $40, he said, and the museum has been running a small deficit for years.
The museum has millions of dollars in investments, but the amount it can withdraw is based on a five-year average value of that endowment. So even though the stock market has recovered, any gains are off-limits, Holzer said.
"One of the serious problems is the money that we spend out of that endowment," Holzer said. "That's going to be with us in the budget for a couple of years."
The increase takes effect on July 1. The suggested price for seniors will rise from $15 to $17 and from $10 to $12 for students. Children under 12 will still get in for free.
Holzer said the museum expects to get about 5 million visitors this year as the economy recovers and vacation travel picks up.