Activists push for free admission to New York City's public museums, attractions

Kemberly Richardson Image
Monday, October 30, 2023
Admission costs too high? Big change could come to some NYC museums
Kemberly Richardson has more on a push to make New York City public museums free for admission.

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- The cost of admission to a museum in New York City is on the rise, but if some activists have their way, certain iconic institutions could charge nothing to enjoy what they have to offer.

It was a special day at the Natural History Museum for Sarah and her mom Tania Kelley, as they celebrated a birthday for the 11-year-old.

Kelley said the tickets for the museum cost a total of $55. That's a bit steep, but she told Eyewitness News reporter Kemberly Richardson that it's doable.

It's often the same situation at other city treasures like the Bronx Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

The price of admission can be a deterrent, something State Senator Cordell Cleare of Harlem wants to change.

"Arts and culture is something that's so important to our communities and where we have public institutions that enjoy the benefits of being on public land, they should open their doors freely and it should be clear that it is free for you to attend and participate in whatever it is that they are doing, and that's not always the case," Cleare said.

She's introduced a bill that would closely examine admission costs and make sure those institutions that sit on public land, and therefore don't pay rent, hold up their end of the deal.

More than a dozen attractions in the five boroughs fall in that category.

But that's not so at places like the Guggenheim, which is privately run. The Guggenheim and others do have "pay what your wish" programs and suggested contributions.

"I know that even young people, who can't afford a lot of the prices to get in, would love to come and see what these museums have," Upper East Side resident Liza Newman said.

For some, specifically tourists, many opt to buy sightseeing packages, which bundle attractions for a flat fee, but even those can be pricey.

One family paid nearly $450 in total for the three of them.


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