NEW YORK—The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the city’s most esteemed art institutions, has come under criticism for its ambiguous admissions policy.
Tourists and newcomers to the city—and even longtime residents—get confused by the pricing system. The large sign lists admission prices for Adults, Seniors, Students, and Children at the museum entranceway. On the sign is the word “recommended” in small lettering.
Filip Saska and Tomas Nadrchal, both of the Czech Republic, and Stephen Michelman, of Manhattan, say the museum is intentionally misdirecting people through the misleading signs and fraudulent marketing, according to the New York Daily News. They have launched a class action lawsuit, filed in the state court in Manhattan.
“We have obtained evidence which makes clear to us that the museum is actively misleading the public and that members of museum’s leadership are fully aware of that fact,” said lawyer Michael Hiller.
A survey by two museum members involved in the lawsuit of more than 360 visitors to the museum found more than 85 percent believed they were required to pay to gain entrance.
Two persons who spoke to the Daily News said they didn’t realize how the admission policy works.
“I paid $12, the student price,” said Leandro Morone, 30, a student from Argentina.
“I didn’t realize I didn’t need to pay until I was inside,” Morone added. “I realized when I was reading the museum map. If I’d known, I wouldn’t have paid.”
Anneka Lenssen, 33, said she tried walking in once but wasn’t able to.
“I asked to pay nothing and the attendant tried to shame me,” the city student said. “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.”
On the website, there’s no mention of the ability to enter the museum without paying. An extra line, “to help cover the costs of special exhibitions, we ask that you please pay the full recommended amount,” is added under the admission prices.
A museum spokesperson called the lawsuit “entirely frivolous,” according to the New York Times.
When recommended fees first started in the 1970s, signs over the cashiers’ desks included the phrase: “Pay what you wish, but you must pay something.”