Friday, July 25, 2008

Royal Ontario Museum quietly raises admission prices... again

Crossposted to Spacing Wire

I was at the Royal Ontario Museum earlier today for a media view and was shocked to see that the admission price has quietly risen 10% or more across the board. Now admission fees are $22 for adults, $19 for students and seniors, and $15 for children aged 4 to 14. (They were previously the still-expensive $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and students, and $12 for children 4 to 14—those all being part of a 30% rise that came into effect June 2007.)

This means that ticket prices on “cheap” half-price Fridays have also risen—to recap, it’s now $11 for adults, $9 for students and seniors, and $7.50 for children aged 4 to 14. Frankly, this is the maximum such ticket prices should be all the time, not just 4 hours for TGIFers.

This new price rise (which quietly came into effect July 1) has arrived soon after the ROM kindly received a $12.1-mil one-time grant from the Government of Ontario to offset its building costs. And just after the Government pumped another, much ballyhooed $1.3 mil into the ROM to give 1,200 free passes a month to the United Way and new citizens. (This deal, if renewed next year, gets the ROM gets an extra $60 for every free pass that walks through the door. How, you ask? The actual at-the-door cost of 14,400 tickets a year is just $288,800 or so. That leaves, oh, $1 mil for the ROM to shovel into its money pit.)

So…. where’s another press conference with McGuinty when you need one? This fee increase was one aspect of ROM access strategy conveniently not addressed (either by the ROM, or by McG) when the premier gave his talk about making the museum more accessible to all Ontarians back in April.

To be fair, as I walked around the museum today I could see that there were visitors present despite my doomsaying; many were tourists in vacation-spending mode, others clearly daycamp kids who had benefited from some of that press-conference-related ticket donation programming. There was even enough people that I started to think maybe I’ve been too rash about all this admission fee harping; maybe it’s only me who feels like it’s not affordable.

Interestingly, the 5pm “half-price Fridays” lineup outside the museum proved my ambivalent musings wrong. The lineup stretched around the Bloor/University corner to the old sandstone entrance, and was growing. People looked like they would be standing in line for a good while before even getting in—and they were willing to do this just for the chance to pay a reasonable fee to enter their own museum.

Some say the rain is getting them down—but to me, it’s institutional mismanagement like this that really makes for a gloomy summer.

If you do want to visit, remember Wednesdays from 4:30 to 5:30 is the only hour during which admission to the ROM is free to all comers. This is now thankfully posted in between the front glass entrance doors, but strangely not at the ticket counter. “Enjoy!”

Photo from the Office of the Premier of Ontario.

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