A trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a staple for any New York City tourist. The museum, known locally as "The Met," is one of the largest and most celebrated art museums in the world. And, it’s free. That’s right, the museum has no entrance fee, only a “recommended” $25 suggested donation.
A lawsuit filed on Tuesday by two Czech tourists and a member of the museum will take the Met to task for misleading its 6 million annual visitors into believing there is an admission fee.
"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 museum maintains a rent-free lease with the city, meaning New York considers the historic institution public space. The Met is required to open its doors to the public at no fee several days a week, yet has permission to ask for suggested donations.
The suit claims that the museum “has misled, and regularly misleads, members of the general public to believe, on all days of the week during times when the MMA is open, that they are required to pay the Admission Fees in order to enter Museum Exhibition Halls.”
Museum spokesman Harold Holzer told Reuters that 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."
The lawsuit asks for an injunction and damages for every museum visitor who, like the plaintiffs, paid an admission fee with a credit card, according to the report.