The Indianapolis Museum of Art attracted attention with one announcement, last week. In the spring, it will charge an $18 admission fee.
Some people said that will be the day they stop going to the IMA.
Tom Hiatt, Chairman of the Board of Governors at the museum, prepared a Letter to the Editor that explains the decision. I thought I would use this space to share those thoughts.
To the Editor
Last Thursday the Board of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, following a year of research and analysis, voted unanimously to approve a new admissions policy to help secure a strong financial foundation for the Museum. As stewards of one of our community’s most loved cultural assets, we felt we made the only prudent choice we could. I would like to explain why.
The IMA receives less than 1% of its annual budget from government sources. It relies on membership, fund raising efforts, public support and its endowment for more than 99% of its revenue. Many similar institutions in other cities receive significant funding from public sources, which allows them to maintain free admission. This is not the case in Indianapolis.
Our primary goal in instituting an admission charge is to encourage our visitors to become members. We anticipate that a continuing stream of membership income will enable us to reduce our annual draw on our endowment to a sustainable level. At $55 for an individual and $75 for a family, annual membership in the IMA offers many amenities. Membership enables guests to enjoy a full year of unlimited admission to the museum and gardens (including special exhibits), early access and reduced or free admission to events, free parking, and discounts in the Museum Store, greenhouse shop and the IMA Café.
Our research shows that our guests do not like paying separately for parking and exhibitions. For our visitors who do not wish to purchase a membership, starting in April, an adult general admission ticket will be $18 and will include the cost of both exhibitions and parking, as well as other programs. Children ages 6-17 will be charged $10; children ages five and under will be admitted free.
Experiences that will continue to be free to the public include The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres; The Dudley and Mary Louise Sutphin Mall (Five Brushstrokes and LOVE sculptures); the Museum Store and the IMA Café.
Admission to the IMA will be free for scheduled field trips from Marion County public and charter schools; college students from four-year, non-profit and public colleges and universities in Marion County; and the general public the first Thursday of each month from 4-9 p.m.
The campus and programming changes the IMA is making in the months ahead will enable the Museum to continue to deliver exceptional experiences to our visitors.
On behalf of the Board, the IMA staff volunteers and donors who cherish the Museum and who are deeply committed to its future, I wish to thank the community, our members and visitors for the many ways you support the IMA.
The best is yet to come.
Chair, IMA Board of Governors