This morning's post on the Getty's $15 parking fee — I agreed with the NYT's Ed Wyatt that it's essentially an admission charge — elicited a nice flow and range of responses. There were the usual "take the bus" suggestions, but also some thoughtful commenting that reflected the Getty's history and the realities of L.A. transit. Steven Mikulan at L.A. Daily pulled together some blog talk and this old quote from John Paul Getty himself:
It was my intent that the collections should be completely open to the public, free of all charges--be they for admission or even for parking automobiles. Nothing of this sort could be insured if the museum were under the control of a city, state--or even the Federal--government.
A sampling of what came in to me via email and Facebook is after the jump.
Email from Paul Herzog:
I read the NYT piece and I must respectfully disagree regarding the statement that the parking fee is “the same as” an admission fee. From my experience, most people who go to the Getty go in a group. For a family of four, going by car to the Getty means four admissions, for $15…or less than $4 per person. For a whole day, that is a pretty good deal. Unlike LACMA or other museums, the Getty for most people is really a destination in itself where they plan to spend the whole day. As for the elitism charges, I think it’s a bit unfair. Yes, they are on a hill-top in Brentwood-and so what? Strolling through the gardens and admiring the views is part of the pleasure in visiting.
While I’m banging on my drum, let me add that I suspect that the statement in that NYT piece feeds into a popular trope about LA-that this is a deeply divided place, with the poor people of color confined and underserved in bad neighborhoods, and the selfish affluent whites in their gated hill side homes. LA certainly has tons of problems and in many ways is very divided. But come hang out at LACMA, the Getty, Griffith Park, the LA Music Center, Disney Hall or the LA Public library downtown on any given Saturday afternoon. You will find people of all races and nationalities mingling together, reading books, looking at art and in general, partaking of the city’s cultural and recreational bounty.
Facebook comment from Abby Arnold:
Located up on the hill in Brentwood like that, the Getty has always seemed to be paying lip service to their claims of accessibility to those who otherwise might not visit an art museum. When they first opened, their image on t-shirts and tote bags was the shuttle, not Van Gogh or Ensor or even their architecture. I think it costs $8 to park at the California Science Center, and it's walkable for many. Just making a comparison between two museums that opened within months of each other.
Bill Becher on Facebook:
So? NYC admission costs: Metropolitan Museum of Art $20 MOMA $20 Guggenheim $18
Tyler Green, the longtime Getty watcher at Modern Art Notes, on Facebook:
The NYT is correct.
The Gugg's admissions cost changes with the show. The Met is effectively pay-what-you-can with $20 suggested. And J Paul Getty wrote this: "It was my intent that the collections should be completely open to the public, free of all charges—be they for admission or even for parking automobiles. Nothing of this sort could be insured if the museum were under the control of a city, state—or even the Federal—government." via the wonderful LA County Museum on Fire blog.
From L.A. blogger Atwater Village Newbie:
The New York Times gets it on the Getty parking fee, but misses the boat on LA transportation.
The paper repeats the oft-told myth that LA is a “city with limited public transportation.” Simply not so, says the paper own Freakonomics blog:
“Compared with the majority of U.S. cities, Los Angeles is not a
transit wasteland. The region is second in the nation in transit
patronage, behind only New York. Even on a market share basis
(passenger transit miles traveled as a share of all miles traveled),
Los Angeles’s ridership rate is relatively high: 11th among the 50
largest urban areas.”
If the NYT meant to say LA’s public transportation system doesn’t serve the Getty Center very well, it’d have a better case.
But I venture this has more to do with the fact that a public bus can only go up to the property entrance; still nearly a mile downhill from the museum.
I would be less concerned about the Getty's $15 parking fee (i.e., de facto admission fee) if they followed LACMA's policy of having some times when the fee is waived or reduced. At LACMA, general admission is free on the second Tuesday of the month, and admission after 5 pm is "pay what you wish." It would, at the very least, be nice to see the Getty do something like that.
Transportation planner Steve Crosley:
What does raising a parking charge have to do with elitism? That makes no sense to me and there’s no explanation of what that means.
LACMA is located in an urban environment so it’s easier to get to via public transit but parking there isn’t free unless you park in the residential neighborhoods to the south.
On the plus side, a higher parking charge will encourage more carpooling, thus putting fewer vehicles on the road and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
And how many times does the cultured person go to the Getty on average per year? Once? Twice? So that’s $5-$10 more a year if the person drives alone. Remember gas was $2 more a gallon this time last year than it is now. A 15 gallon fill up cost $30 more last year for the exact same product. Every fill up. So is $5 really that big a deal?
As someone who, like many people these days, has been watching money, the reality is that I already avoided going to the Getty as often as I wanted to because the parking was already already too high to justify a quick visit.
This is really too bad. I can't see myself being able to justify that kind of rate very often.
And, I'm sorry, I'm a single guy. I rarely go the Getty in a group (as some people suggested is common) -- unless it's a group of two, when I'm taking a girl there on a date.
Let’s be real, it is increase of $ 5.00 ($ 10 to $ 15) per car load. Based on 4 per vehicle, the increase amounts to $ 1.25 per head…I almost wish they charged for admittance and gave free parking…
Face it, anything for free is not valued and is treated accordingly…if you pay for something, you tend to value it more…museums included…
The real unspoken problem is related to antiquated tax law which forces trusts and philanthropic organizations to spend all their income…in the good years they must spend all the earnings (not saving for a rainy day – much like the California budgeting process) and when the lean years come (they always do) they have to cut back the spending to match the income…funny how tax law can impact a lot of decisions in ways you don’t suspect…
Anyways, an increase in parking is not the end of the world (ever try parking at the Staples Center?)…we will survive…and we still have the crown jewel that the Getty center was and remains…
Indeed, the city will survive. But I'll be going to the Getty less often, and many more won't go at all.