Art costs too much in L.A. (* updated)

SignArts blogger Tyler Green lives on the East Coast but covers Los Angeles like a glove — all but one of his ten favorite shows of the year were here, for instance. Yesterday he skewered the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for its high admission fee for the current Magritte show, noting he was the only guest under 50 years of age

It was as if the exhibit and I had accidentally stumbled into a Del Webb community clubhouse. It didn't take me long to realize why I was surrounded by middle-aged (and up), affluence: On weekends, LACMA charges a ridiculous $22 to see the show. That's more than MoMA's ridiculous, tourist-soaking fee. But at least at MoMA kids 16 and under and many college students are free. The most a student pays at MoMA is $12.At LACMA's Magritte show students get a discount -- to $19. (And LACMA keeps the exhibition price a secret -- it isn't mentioned here.)

Now, I'm hesitant to pop off about LACMA again. For a writer there's real risk to criticizing an institution too regularly. And as we all know by now: For several years LACMA has distinguished itself with short-sighted thinking, An$chutz-driven decision-making, strange exhibition programming, and with curators who shrug off the destruction of art by pointing out that they have photographs of that which they destroy. I've complained about all of it. So I thought about keeping this one under my hat. But...

It's hard to imagine how LACMA could be doing a better job of limiting its future audiences than by boneheadedly charging $19-22 for a show. That pretty much guarantees that the only people under 35 who are going to see Magritte-and-pals are Ron Burkle's kids and David Geffen's cabana boys.

So today he posts that "our email overfloweth," including from UCLA professor Lari Pittman. His students get passes to MOCA and other museums, but the charge for LACMA is so high that the professor pays it for them. Green is aghast that the LACMA doesn't give artists much of a break on admission, but does offer 20% for AAA members. He proposes that the museum "admit students from California high schools and colleges for free -- and not just to the permanent collection but to special exhibits too. Then create a $35/annum artists membership tier."

Update: LACMA insists to Greene that Magritte is free to anyone under 18 if they ask for a free ticket at the box office. His reply: Well, why don't you tell them about that.


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