Art museum to charge for parking

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The Indianapolis Museum of Art will charge $5 for parking starting Sept. 1.

The new fee comes a year after the museum opened an outdoor sculpture park that drove up attendance. General admission to the museum and the new park, 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park, is free.

The parking fee will cover all but 170 spaces in peripheral lots on the main campus and at 100 Acres.

IMA plans to put the revenue in a "green" fund to pay for any expense related to environmental sustainability, whether that be soy-based printer ink or the use of geothermal energy at 100 Acres, for example.

Members of the museum will get free parking, as will anyone who buys $50 worth of merchandise at the IMA store or Madeline F. Elder greenhouse.

Other midwestern museums that charge a fee for parking earn $500,000 to $1 million a year, but IMA does not expect its first-year revenue to be that high,  spokeswoman Katie Zarich said. The IMA's fee is expected to generate at least $100,000 in the first year.

Zarich said museum officials don't expect the fee to affect attendance, but they do expect to sell more memberships. The IMA now has 8,100 member households.

The price of an individual membership, which costs $50, will rise to $55 on Sept. 1. Family memberships will remain at $75.

Chief Operating Officer Nick Cameron said in a prepared statement he hopes the fee will encourage visitors to use carpools and alternative transportation, which would delay the need for additional parking. He also thinks paid parking will enhance security, which was a concern after a string of car break-ins last summer.

“We’d like our visitors to join us in our efforts to be better stewards of the environment through their transportation choices," Cameron said in the statement.

Zarich said attendance last summer jumped 67 percent, largely because of the opening of 100 Acres. The museum counted 170,706 visitors from June 20 to Sept. 30, 2010, a 50-percent jump over the same period in 2009.


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