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Why the Indianapolis Museum of Art raised admission

December 20, 2014

On Dec. 11, the board of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, following a year of research and analysis, voted unanimously to approve a new admissions policy to help secure a strong financial foundation for the museum. As stewards of one of our community’s most loved cultural assets, we felt we made the only prudent choice we could.

The IMA receives less than 1 percent of its annual budget from government sources. It relies on membership, fund raising, public support and its endowment for more than 99 percent. Many similar institutions in other cities receive significant funding from public sources, which allows them to maintain free admission.

Our primary goal in instituting an admission charge is to encourage visitors to become members. We anticipate that a continuing stream of membership income will enable us to reduce our annual draw on our endowment to a sustainable level. At $55 for an individual and $75 for a family, annual membership offers many amenities. Membership enables guests to enjoy a full year of unlimited admission to the museum and gardens (including special exhibits), early access and reduced or free admission to events, free parking, and discounts in the Museum Store, greenhouse shop and the IMA Café.

Our research shows that guests do not like paying separately for parking and exhibitions. For visitors who do not wish to purchase a membership, starting in April, an adult general admission ticket will be $18 and include the cost of exhibitions and parking, as well as other programs. Children ages 6 to 17 will be charged $10; children ages 5 and under will be admitted free.

Experiences that will continue to be free to the public include The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres, The Dudley and Mary Louise Sutphin Mall (Five Brushstrokes and LOVE sculptures), the store and the cafe.

Admission to the IMA will be free for scheduled field trips from Marion County public and charter schools; college students from four-year, not-for-profit and public colleges and universities in Marion County; and the general public the first Thursday of each month from 4 to 9 p.m.

The campus and programming changes in the months ahead will enable the museum to continue to deliver exceptional experiences. The best is yet to come.
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Tom Hiatt, chairman, IMA Board of Governors

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