Class action against NYC’s Met Museum

by Walter Olson on March 30, 2013

The cultural institution doesn’t make clear enough to visitors that its admission donation is only recommended, according to the lawyers [NY Daily News]

{ 7 comments }

1 theprez98 03.30.13 at 9:59 am

The American Museum of Natural History in NYC has the same “recommended” policy, and it was immediately obvious to me that you don’t have to pay the whole price (or any of it). Still, I don’t doubt that they try to shame people into paying. But that doesn’t lend any merit to the lawsuit.

2 Bob Lipton 03.30.13 at 5:49 pm

The Met’s lawyers should argue that the sign is a piece of Trompe l’œil art and the fact that some people cannot appreciate the ironic statement works out to a sign of the art’s brilliance.

Bob

3 Richard Nieporent 03.30.13 at 11:50 pm

It would be fitting if the lawsuit results in the removal of the word recommended from the sign.

4 rxc 03.31.13 at 4:13 am

My wife used to work at the Met. When I went to get into line to pay during our first visit (she no longer worked there) she quickly yanked me away and chastised me severely – they already have an enormous amount of money, treat their staff like s**t, and waste more money than you CAN imagine. We just asked for tabs, and went right on in. It is an amazing place, but there are issues there…

5 wfjag 03.31.13 at 7:05 am

The settlement will provide for a large cash payment to lawyers and coupons for the public allowing free admission and requesting a donation.

6 Richard Nieporent 04.01.13 at 12:44 pm

@rxc

I find your comment that the Met has a large endowment and therefore does not need the money from the admissions because “they already have an enormous amount of money, treat their staff like s**t, and waste more money than you CAN imagine” to be a novel rationalization for not paying. That being the case, I have found the perfect place for you to eat (as long as you just order the Turkey Chili in a Bread Bowl).

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/03/27/panera-pay-whatever-want/?intcmp=obnetwork

7 rxc 04.06.13 at 8:27 am

Richard,

The rationalization was not mine. It was that of my wife, who used to be a staff member in the Met. She knew more about it that I ever will, and will carry the scars for a long time. I believe that the Met is supposed to admit visitors free, in exchange for various tax benefits and subsidies that it receives from the city, under a very old law, but they don’t like to admit it.

Regarding Panera, they do make some decent food, and this is an interesting business model. If it works for them, then great. Most businesses don’t quite work that way.

Museums are strange beasts. Having been married to a museum professional for nearly 30 years, and hearing many stories, I can testify that they are even stranger than governments. They have all sorts of stakeholder issues that no business would ever have to deal with. These include limits on how the conduct their business that arise from original deeds that grant them the buildings they work in, the objects they display, and the money in their endowments. One recent famous example was the Barnes(sp?) Museum in Philly, which was prevented from doing maintenance on the building, to the point that the water was doing damage to the objects.

It is very complicated, but the Met in NYC does not seem to suffer from the most common problem – funding limits – so giving them even more money does not seem to me to be a good thing. Maybe they really need to go on a diet for a while…

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