Blog has moved, redirecting you to the new blog...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Paying the Price for Post-Modernism

I went to see the Post-Modernism exhibition at the V&A yesterday.  It was great.  So much fun to be had with a teapot, and David Byrne’s actual big suit.  Post Modernism is one of those terms I’ve never quite felt comfortable using, like abstruse, and existential, and neo-platonic, so I thought the exhibition would help. 

I was a bit vexed about the charging.  It’s reasonable to pay for special exhibitions, especially when the rest of the museum is free.  And £11 for a full ticket is not cheap – a bit more than a peak time movie ticket with extra 3D specs, or a latte for yourself and 3.23 of your friends -  but there are concessions available if you happen to be a student, or young, or old or disabled (though not, sadly, if you're just broke, which most of us are at the moment). 

But they don’t ask you for £11, they ask you for £12.50, recovering the tax relief on the extra as a donation.  V&A will have done the sums.  More people will be inclined to pay a small extra donation on a hefty ticket price, than a hefty donation on a lower ticket price, so that’s what they’ve plumped for.  But I thought it was a bit of a cheek, especially as you can’t get a sandwich there for much under a fiver.
I absolutely love that many of our museums and art galleries are free. It means that these amazing places are crowded out with kids (this is half term) which is brilliant for our cultural education.  It also means you can pop in and have a look at a small part, without feeling you have to traipse right round to get your money's worth.  Everyone can.
This isn't possible in Paris, where hardly anything is free.  Nor in Rome, which is also expensive.  Nor in New York.  Except at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  This place has a good system.  They ask you for a voluntary contribution of $25.  They make it sound like a fixed price but the truth is you can get in for anything, so long as it's money. 
I chose not to pay the full amount to the Met, partly because I thought $25 was a bit stiff, partly because I intended to make several visits, and partly because we invite Americans to pop into Tate Britian, Tate Modern, the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum, the V&A, the Science Museum, the National History Museum, and hundreds more for absolutely nothing. 

This would be a good system for our museums.  Instead of a limp notice suggesting a donation of £3 with a perspex box full of foreign bank notes underneath, why not get everyone to pay something, a penny or a hundred quid, each reaching into their conscience, no judgement attached, tax relief on the whole lot if appropriate?

I'm not going to say how much I paid to the Met, just suffice to say it was my reverse Boston Tea party, let’s call it the 82nd Street Coffee Break.  But does it count as post-modern?

No comments:

Post a Comment