Role of Museums
Mery Lynn McCorkle has posted a thoughtful essay at Zero Degrees Art on the practice of charging admittance to museums and the changing role of museums in society - are they for entertainment or education? See her Travelouge 33. This is an increasingly controversial issue, with institutions like MoMA now charging $20 and the LA County Museum basically renting their space for a blockbuster exhibition by a private company. Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes has written about the LACMA issue better than I ever could.
Of course, I work for the Smithsonian, which is free, so I'm a bit biased about this. I know museums are struggling for funding, whether they are publicly or privately financed (or a bit of both, in many cases); but when does the admittance price become a hindrance to even middle class visitors? Bringing a family of five to MoMA now sets you back $100, unless you go on the free night (four hours on Fridays) which in my experience is ridiculously crowded.