Frequent guests of The Metropolitan Museum of Art can breathe a sigh of relief. On Wednesday October 30th, major elements of the two cases regarding the museum’s admission policies received rulings in the museum’s favor. The lawsuits challenged the Met’s long-standing “pay-what-you-wish” policy on the grounds that it violated both the museum’s 1878 lease and New York state appropriations law.
Large portions of the Supreme Court cases facing the Metropolitan Museum of Art were dismissed by presiding New York judge Shirley Konreich. The Met stood accused of misleading visitors through its recommended admission price of twenty-five dollars. Justice Konreich expressed confidence in the policy’s role in opening access to the Met to members of every economic strata. “Admission to the Met is de facto free for all,” the judge wrote.
Konreich’s sentiments are echoed by the Met’s management. In the wake of the ruling, the Met expressed relief in a public statement. “The Met is delighted with the ruling and trusts this decision once and for all validates its longtime pay-what-you wish admissions policy—which, as the judge has declared, guarantees fairness and access for visitors of all economic means.”
In April, Met director Thomas P. Campbell posted an extensive critique of the two lawsuits on the Met’s official webpage. Expressing a desire to “communicate directly with you, our audience,” Campbell defended the admission’s legal standing and moral foundation. The director notes that the policy was instituted “only after the Museum received approval from New York City’s Administrator of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs more than four decades ago,” giving the Met ample legal grounds for its policy. Moreover, he notes that individual visits “on average costs the institution more than $40” and describes the measure as purely to the benefit of low-income guests.
Though elements of the case are yet to be settled, the Met is posed to continue operating in a largely unchanged manner. Visitors will continue to have access to the myriad exhibits of the Met, regardless of the weight of their wallets.