Had I done my homework, I’d have learned in advance about the Museum of a Fine Arts’ exorbitant admission fee and saved a trip over there.
My husband and I were in Boston for the first time in many years and thought we’d pop in for a brief visit as part of our day’s adventure. Once in the lobby, though, we discovered that our museum visit would cost $50.
I asked the fellow who greeted us if the fee was suggested or mandatory, and he told us to come back on Wednesday at 4:00 pm when we could pay whatever we wanted (this was Friday). I knew he was just a low-level staffer so I said, politely, that we were in town for a few hours and couldn’t commit to a long enough visit to make it worthwhile. He cocked his head and shrugged his shoulders in a way that said, “We’re far too important to care if you stay or go.”
A nice security guard did let us slip in to use the restroom, though, so our trip to the MFA wasn’t a total loss.
With more time to visit old haunts, we ended up having an exceptional day in Boston where we treated ourselves to a lovely lunch with a nice bottle of wine, which we used to toast the museum and its thoughtful security staff.
As a long-time cultural tourism professional, I’ve paid close attention to the chronic decline in museum attendance over the last twenty years, but mostly from an abstract, aggregate perspective. This weekend I came face-to-face with the choices potential museum goers must make when they assess the relative value of their leisure options: Nice lunch out in an appealing destination, or a visit to the local museum.
I can see why more and more of them are choosing lunch.