When I visited the Museum of the City of New York last month, I saw a variety of exhibits. Admission was $14. It reminded me precisely how much I take for granted the many museums I have at my disposal in Washington, DC. I am certain other art and museum lovers noticed this too. I wrote about this topic before and all the museums that make up the Smithsonian Museum network. The biggest appeal is the free admittance. There currently are 19 institutions that make up the Smithsonian, in addition to the National Zoo, and they all draw huge crowds from all around the world.
Visit other cities and you’ll quickly realize how expensive it can be. I have visited museums in many places within and outside of the United States, and there was always an admission fee. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts still proves to be the most expensive, amounting to $25 on my last visit. I don’t know what it is now. That’s a hefty admission fee, and it can set you way back if you travel with a large family; however, you can visit all the Smithsonian Museums in and around DC and it won’t cost you anything at all – “not one brown penny,” as my momma would have said. That’s a great way to entertain the whole family in a cost-effect manner. You can’t do that in any other city, not that I’m aware of. I was reminded of that during my visit to New York. The collection art wasn’t more fabulous merely due to an entrance fee. It was all comparable, the free art and the art with an entrance fee.
The Smithsonian has several funding streams. It has trust funds, which include contributions from private sources and revenues from the Smithsonian magazines; mail-order catalog sales; donations from the public, which include individuals who make modest contributions as well as philanthropists who donate thousands of dollars on up; entertainment (some venues have attractions for which a fee is assessed); shops, restaurants and concessions. Additionally, for 2016, the federal government appropriates more than $800 million.
Later this month, the National Museum of African American History and Culture will open, making the total number of free museums 20. The dedication ceremony is slated for September 24th. Although it’s free entry, timed/dated passes are required, not only for the commemoration ceremony but also for all future visits. So, plan accordingly. Get your passes here!