While the Smithsonian wound up being able to avoid having to charge its threatened $7.50 per ticket, other Washington DC-based museums haven’t fared the same. The National Building Museum has announced that, effective June 27th, it will begin charging an entry fee, $8 for adults and $5 for children. While that certainly likely won’t destroy any visitor’s wallets, considering nearly every museum in the country seems to start at around $15/per, it’s a big change for the organization, which had been free to visit since its opening in 1985. The museum had tested the fee-charging waters with its popular Lego Architecture exhibition, which ran for nearly a year and cost visitors $5 a pop. That experiment having been successful and the financial issues plaguing nearly every museum in the world certainly not passing them by, the museum made the decision that now was the time to implement the new policy. Here’s a portion from a letter to the museum’s staff from the NBM’s executive director, Chase Rynd:
Over the past few years, the recession has been particularly devastating for the culture and arts community, as well as the building and design industry. The many people who have deep affinity for the National Building Museum understand all too well, therefore, that this institution has been greatly impacted by the economic crisis.
Around the world and in our backyards, the landscape for nonprofit organizations has shifted dramatically. Those who wait too long to realize this truth or dismiss it entirely are likely to become casualties of the era. Under no circumstances will we allow this to be the fate of the National Building Museum.