New York museum's $25 'donation' to be mandatory for out-of-staters

Welcome to the Met. That'll be $25, please.

Beginning March 1, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is changing its longtime voluntary admissions policy. It will now charge a mandatory $25 for most out-of-staters, while keeping its "pay-what-you-wish" policy for New Yorkers.

However, the museum noted that students, children and seniors will still be admitted for a lower price, and the mandatory fee will be good for three consecutive days instead of one.

Visitors view the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibit, "Punk: Chaos to Couture," in New York, May 6, 2013. With their black leather, studded jackets, ripped jeans, bondage trousers and messages of rebellion and anarchy, punks from the 1970s probably never envisioned that a major museum would be celebrating their influence on fashion 40 years later. But the Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is doing just that with a new exhibition, "Punk: Chaos to Couture," that opens on May 9 and runs through Aug. 14. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY FASHION) - GM1E9570LBV01

Visitors view the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibit, "Punk: Chaos to Couture," in New York, May 6, 2013.  (Reuters)

The voluntary fee has made the Met an affordable destination for art lovers since its founding in 1870.

Daniel Weiss, the Met’s president and CEO, said the projected extra revenue, estimated to be $6 million to $11 million per year, would help bring long-term financial stability to the institution.

The Met has a $305 million operating budget, but registered a shortfall of about $10 million in its most recent fiscal year. 

“The goal of the policy is to find a better balance for the institution,” Weiss said. “The current policy has failed.”

The number of people willing to pay a suggested donation of $25 has declined substantially in recent years.

The fee change will affect about 30 percent of the museum’s visitors, as the rest are state residents, Met members, or part of a tour group.

The formal change also follows years of debate and litigation over its admissions policies.

Michael Dysart, a retired psychotherapist visiting the museum, said “it’s a complicated issue, because everyone needs more money now - all the institutions.”

“They need to be financially secure, but at what cost? What’s the trade-off?” he said.

Paola Borri, a 51-year-old accountant, is visiting from Italy.

“We think art education should be a free, open door for everybody, not only for those who have more money,” Borri said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.