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Posts Tagged ‘free admission’

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Photos: MOCA Cleveland
This museum is experimenting with new ways to be more inclusive, including free admission.

I’m impressed by the museum in this story because it has free admission every day in order to be more inclusive. Very unusual. The big museum where I live, Boston’s MFA, has one free day. It does have decent student hours, but it’s prohibitively priced for families on most days. Cleveland is going to have to raise a lot of money from grants.

Sarah Douglas writes at ArtNews, “If there is one word that has been on the agendas of almost every American art museum in the past few years, it is inclusion: How do institutions make diverse audiences feel welcome? The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland [has] announced a comprehensive plan to infuse inclusiveness into the museum on a structural and programmatic level.

“The five components of the initiative, which is called ‘Open House,’ are free admission for all, the creation of a diversity-focused curatorial fellowship (the first recipient is LaTanya Autry, who has held curatorial positions at the Yale University Art Gallery and the Mississippi Museum of Art), an engagement-guide apprenticeship program, enhanced onsite programming for families and teens, and the addition of an education specialist. …

“Jill Snyder, who has led the institution as its Kohl Executive Director since 1996, [says,] ‘We are taking what we hope is a noble approach that has a high quotient of humility, which is that we are really listening to what is going on in our community.’ …

“The museum’s lead investment in ‘Open House’ is the result of being the first recipient of a brand new grant from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation called ‘Bold Initiatives,’ which gives $500,000 over three years to small and mid-sized institutions to enact comprehensive plans that affect outreach, diversity, and inclusion. …

“One of the components of Open House, the engagement-guide apprenticeship program, which the Thoma Foundation grant is supporting, gets to what Snyder refers to as the integration of ‘welcoming, collaborative practices into every aspect of our business.’ The museum is creating a cohort of 10 to 12 part-time positions, with hiring based on the diversity ratio of Cuyahoga County, and will mentor these hires in visitor services, guarding art, and how to talk about art. It will be designed like a fellowship program, and the hires will be given board mentors and guided as to how they can apply their new skills elsewhere. Snyder describes it as workforce training in the cultural sector. …

“ ‘We set about defining initiatives moving toward our 50th anniversary in claiming that this idea of a Kunsthalle in the Midwest had a specific meaning,’ Snyder said. … ‘We saw that with artists, that what they were doing was not mediated through an art-world ecosystem, because we don’t have that here. There is no proliferation of galleries, collectors, and art criticism — those filters. So there is a more direct engagement between artist, museum, and community.’ …

“Open House [is] meant ‘to lower barriers to entry and to work on inclusion and accessibility. Even if we get people in the door, how do we make the encounter with new art rewarding?’ ” asks Snyder. That will be the ongoing challenge, but Cleveland is up for it.

Read more at ArtNews, here. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, museums offer free admission this summer to people on public assistance. And then, there’s this about a gift to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art that will allow for free admission.

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If you saw a sign in a museum saying that the suggested entry fee for students was $8, would you ask if you could pay $2? Would you even ask what the sign meant?

Museums may be taking too much for granted about what people know.

All summer, after classes, Chanel Baldwin hung out in the lobby of the Brooklyn Museum for the air-conditioning. She didn’t understand that the $8 “suggested” student admission was merely suggested. So she got to know intimately the only painting that was in the lobby, and she thought about what was meant by the details surrounding the black man on the horse in “Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps,” by Kehinde Wiley.

One day when her cousin was cooling in the lobby with Chanel, NY Times reporter Anand Giridharadas showed up, explaining that they could go through the entrance gate without paying. “No donation today, thank you,” Giridharadas said to the cousins’ astonishment.

“The gates parted,” writes the reporter. “We received green tags to prove our bona fides. … The first room set [Chanel] alight and held her rapt until she had to leave. There was no label too tedious to read, no piece undeserving of her scrutiny. …

“ ‘Look at the detail on it,’ she said of a Fred Wilson mirror, gasping.

“A piece called ‘Avarice,’ by Fernando Mastrangelo, gripped Ms. Baldwin. It appeared from afar like a classic Aztec sun stone. But she got up close. Traced her fingers over it. Went to one side, looked at it; went to the other side, considered it that way. She noticed that the piece was made of corn, and then detected a toothpaste tube, soda bottles and cowboy hats lurking on the surface, all crackling with meaning.

“Watching her,” says Giridharadas, “I realized how the inadvertent exclusion from these rooms must have trained her eyes. … New York is run on the kinds of understandings that kept the cousins in the lobby, with so many places formally open to anyone but protected in their exclusivity by invisible psychic gates.

“Ms. Baldwin suggested a more honest approach, since people tend to think you have to pay: ‘They should just put a sign out telling us that it’s somewhat free.’ ” More here.

Suzanne’s Mom admits that she might not have known the secret code either. But then, she always had the $8.

Photo: Karsten Moran for The New York Times
Chanel Baldwin exploring the Brooklyn Museum after learning that “suggested” when admission fees are “suggested,” that could mean free.

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