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VOICES / A FORUM FOR COMMUNITY ISSUES

The Museum Replies

May 13, 2000|MELODY KANSCHAT, Senior vice president, LACMA

More than 1.2 million people from around the world visited the LACMA last year. We take our responsibility as the premier art museum of the people of Los Angeles very seriously.

We would love to provide free access to the museum on more than just the second Tuesday of each month. However, bringing a satisfying and varied museum experience to our visitors costs LACMA more than $40 million a year. More than 60% of this substantial amount must be raised from admission and ticket charges, membership fees, gifts and grants from individual and corporate donors, and sales of food and merchandise. While the museum might be made "free" to the public more often, the costs of operating the museum on those days would remain the same. Prices would need to increase on all other days to cover the costs of more "free days."

Our top general admission charge of $7 for adults is relatively low compared to other cultural and leisure activities in the region--less than the cost of a first-run film. Children 6 to 17 enter for only $1 and those under 6 are admitted free. Among the six largest art museums in the country that charge for general admission, LACMA's is the lowest.

For those who wish to visit LACMA repeatedly, a basic annual membership at $65 (100% tax deductible) permits two adults and their children unlimited visits to the museum. Members also receive two free tickets to special ticketed exhibitions such as the recent Van Gogh show and the current Pharaohs of the Sun.

Through the generosity of George and MaryLou Boone, the Boone Children's Gallery in LACMA West is always free to all. On our Family Days, various programs and activities for children are offered every Saturday and Sunday at no additional charge.

You'll also find $2 movie matinees, free Institute for Art and Cultures lectures and literary salons, free concerts every Sunday courtesy of the Cultural Affairs Department of the City of Los Angeles, and our hugely popular free Friday Night Jazz series.

Making a LACMA visit a varied, enjoyable and affordable experience is among our highest priorities. Our partnership with Patina's acclaimed chef, Jaochim Splichal, ensures that we offer a variety of meals for every pocketbook. The Plaza Cafe offers a children's meal for $2.95, a hamburger plate for $5.95 and a 49-cent-per-ounce salad bar. Hot dogs and cappuccino from our outdoor carts are less than $3. Fine dining is available at Pentimento with an average meal priced at $12. In addition, inexpensive food can be found at numerous fast-food restaurants and from street vendors within a few minutes' walk from the museum. Picnicking is encouraged throughout the recently refurbished Hancock Park just a few steps away.

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