Should Public and Nonprofit Museums Have Free Admission?
21 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2020
Date Written: August 30, 2016
A common pricing structure for American art museums is to offer a choice between an admission fee for a single visit, and the purchase of an annual membership that would allow the member an unlimited number of visits with no additional charge. This paper evaluates this particular method of museum pricing in terms of efficiency and equity. It concludes, drawing from the economic analysis of two-part pricing, that there is a strong rationale for the membership model, and that this is so even in cases where the museum experiences an increase in unrestricted endowment such that “free” membership would be financially sustainable.
Keywords: Museums, Arts Pricing, Membership, Two-Part Pricing, Arts Participation
JEL Classification: L30, Z11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation