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3/28/12 - Bronx Museum Drops Admission Fee, Trust Helps Get the Word Out

The Trust's grant to fund publicity of the Museum's new no-admission fee policy is mentioned. Program officer Kerry McCarthy is quoted.

Bronx Museum to Drop Fee: Extends Reach Locally and Around the World to Mark 40th Anniversary Season

There's a new freebie in town: The Bronx Museum of the Arts is dropping all admission fees beginning Thursday, its leadership announced Tuesday.

Though previous admission fees were only suggested—$5 for general admission, $3 for students and seniors—they did create a cost barrier in the low-income South Bronx, according to the museum's executive director, Holly Block.

"We know it matters because Friday is our free day, and that's our busiest day," she said.

The move for free admission is part of a series of initiatives designed to strengthen the Bronx's dominant art museum on the occasion of its extended 40th anniversary (the museum was founded in 1971). Also on tap is a campaign to increase its collection by 40 art works by artists in the current collection.

The museum's permanent collection comprises primarily 20th-century and contemporary art, with an emphasis on artists who have made the Bronx a part of their life or work, as well as artists of African, Asian and Latin American descent. Currently on view are scenes of the Hunts Point neighborhood painted by Cuban artist Emilio Sanchez (1921-99).

"Contemporary art often focuses on popular culture," Ms. Block said. "It's a great connection to a public that is not traditionally visiting museums."

According to the museum's research, half of its attendees are under the age of 21. "For a long time our focus was on high schools," Ms. Block said. "Now we are working in lower grades to get them here and get their parents here."

As part of that effort, the museum is "adopting" 40 Bronx schools that currently do not visit on a regular basis. It will cover the cost of transportation and museum educators, who instruct students at the museum and in school classrooms. "The dream is to have every Bronx school come in," said the director. "There is a perception that these kids go downtown [in Manhattan]. They don't."

Currently, the museum is open just four days a week—Thursday through Sunday—and with Friday being free, admission was a small part of the museum's $3 million budget. By dropping the fee altogether, the museum has a greater opportunity to promote itself: In the works is a public-awareness campaign made possible by a $62,000 gift from the New York Community Trust, the grant-making organization that supports the city's nonprofits. Read more>>



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