Admission to The Bronx Museum of the Arts will be free starting Thursday in an effort to attract more of the borough's residents to the museum.
The $5 adult tickets and $3 student and senior tickets were a barrier to entry to the institution, which is located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country, according to the executive director of the museum, Holly Block.
"For our celebration of our 40th anniversary, we felt strongly about making our admission policy free," she said.
To offset costs, the museum sought out funding from the New York Community Trust, which will cover admission costs for 15 months and help with the institution's marketing and branding campaign. The museum hopes to find more funding sources in order to keep tickets free in the future.
Attendance at the museum has been up despite a dip in visits five years ago due to the economic downturn and museum renovations, according to Block. She cited a grant the museum had gotten from the Rubin Foundation that required a 50 percent increase in attendance that the museum was on track to exceed.
Recently, museums across the country such as The Baltimore Museum of Art and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City have been opting to eliminate admission prices.
"There is a slow trend toward free," said Tyler Green, editor of the blog Modern Art Notes. "The written culture of humankind is free to the public at libraries. It's great to see art museums catching up and making more of humankind's visual culture just as accessible."
But some institutions have bucked the trend. The Metropolitan Museum of Art raised the prices of its suggested ticket prices last July and the Museum of Modern Art followed suit in September. Given the increased admission at the two museums, Block hopes New Yorkers will consider visiting the Bronx Museum for free.
The Bronx Museum of the Arts also announced on Tuesday that it had entered a partnership with 40 public schools in the Bronx, many of which do not offer art classes or have arts programming. Bronx Museum educators will work with the schools' teachers to bring arts programming to the classroom and the schools' students will tour the museum and participate in hands-on workshops.
In February, the State Department selected The Bronx Museum of the Arts to be the commissioning institute for the U.S. pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale.