The National Building Museum announced this morning that it will institute an admission fee starting Monday, June 27. In an internal memo quoted in a press release, executive director Chase W. Rynd said the new policy is a response to economic pressures.
“Over the past few years, the recession has been particularly devastating for the culture and arts community, as well as the building and design industry,” Rynd said. “The many people who have deep affinity for the National Building Museum understand all too well, therefore, that this institution has been greatly impacted by the economic crisis.”
The museum, free since its opening in 1985, will charge $8 for adults and $5 for students, seniors, and people under 17. The fee will only apply to exhibits; the museum’s café, Museum Shop, and stunning Great Hall will still be free.
Perhaps anticipating criticism, the NBM quickly pointed out that it is one of the last private museums to instate an admission fee. The press release referenced Hillwood Estate and Gardens, which charges visitors $15, as well as the Corcoran, Phillips Collection, Textile Museum, and other institutions that charge between $8 and $10 for adults. The NBM’s rate will still be lower than many private museums—-including the Newseum, where adults pay $21.95 plus tax—-and it is the same fee found at some smaller
museums institutions including Dumbarton Oaks’ gardens during the high season. But in a city accustomed to abundant, free exhibits, the news may still be disheartening to some visitors.