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Should Public and Nonprofit Museums Have Free Admission?

21 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2016  

Michael J. Rushton

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA)

Date Written: August 30, 2016

Abstract

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

Rushton, Michael J., Should Public and Nonprofit Museums Have Free Admission? (August 30, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2832408 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2832408

Michael J. Rushton (Contact Author)

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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