Second lawsuit against Metropolitan Museum of Art over entry fees Special

Posted Mar 8, 2013 by Leigh Goessl
A lawsuit was filed earlier this week against the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art by three individuals. This is the second lawsuit in the last few months claiming the museum misleads the public over admission fees.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, affectionately referred to by New Yorkers as "The Met", is one of the most noted and visited museums in New York City. Approximately six million people visit The Met annually.
Plaintiffs in the two lawsuits are claiming the signs are misleading and present an illusion of there being a required $25 admission fee to enter and see the exhibits.
In November 2012, Digital Journal had reported on the initial lawsuit that was filed by two museum members against the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
According to Fox News, the most recent lawsuit was filed on Tuesday by two Czech tourists and a museum member.
The plaintiffs are Filip Saska, Tomas Nadrchal and Stephen Michelman, reported The Epoch Times. They are alleging The Met misleads people into thinking the museum is not free through its signs and entry procedures.
There is a suggested donation of $25, but many visitors are under the impression that amount is the required entry fee. A survey was commissioned by the plaintiffs in the initial lawsuit and conducted last year; it showed 85 percent said they "believed they were required to pay".
Each year 6 million people visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Each year 6 million people visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art
In some instances, museum workers allegedly have tried to claim the fee, denying entrance.
“I asked to pay nothing and the attendant tried to shame me,” Anneka Lenssen, 33, a city student, told The Epoch Times. “She said she didn’t know how to enter a no-sale into the computer and told me I had to go to another line.”
The plaintiffs point to an agreement with New York City that states the museum must operate free several days of the week due to a lease contract.
"There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that, as reflected in the complaint filed today, No. 1, an overwhelming majority of people who visit the museum are completely fooled into believing that they are required to pay the museum's admission fees; and No. 2, museum officials know all about it," Michael Hiller, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, told Reuters.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art maintains the lawsuit is "frivolous", according to media reports.
Museum spokesman Harold Holzer told Reuters, the museum is "confident that our longstanding pay-what-you-wish admissions policy meets the spirit and letter of our agreement with the city ... and ensures that the Met is fully accessible to and affordable by all."
Note: This report has been updated March 14. Museum spokesman Harold Holzer had also sent Digital Journal a statement.
Holzer said the museum will "vigorously defend" against the lawsuit, also indicating there has not been free entry to the museum for decades with the consent of the city. He noted the donations are an important revenue stream.
"The fact is, we clearly post our pay-what-you-wish admission policy, we have not been free to the public for more than 30 years with the consent of the City, and we do unapologetically hope our visitors can pay as much as they afford. The days of large city operating subsidies have long gone," Holzer said in an emailed statement.
Entry to special exhibitions come at no extra charge, he elaborated.
"Free admission was conceived of 150 years ago for an entirely government-subsidized institution, like the Smithsonian. There is no model for this kind of operation any more. The city contributes $10 million in direct operating subsidy (not including energy subsidies) toward the museum’s $240 million-dollar-budget. We rely on many crucial revenue streams to maintain our building, preserve, protect, exhibit, and publish our collections, and mount up to 25 shows a year."
Bloomberg News had published an image of a sign at the museum in November after the first lawsuit was filed (scroll down this page to see the image).
Here is the the policy as it appears on the museum's website. What do you think ─ straightforward or misleading?
Screen shot of the Metropolitan Museum of Art s web page that states its admission policy.
Screen shot of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's web page that states its admission policy.
Metropolitan Museum of Art