The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) announced this week that, starting 14 October, it will raise its general admission fees from $25 to $30. Senior prices will increase to $25 (from $22) and tickets for visitors between the ages of 19 and 24 will be $23 (previously $19). Those 18 and younger will still get in for free. This marks the museum’s first fee increase since its expansion in 2016, and the start date of the new fees coincides with the opening of the exhibition Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Love (until 7 September 2024)—the beloved Japanese artist’s first solo show in Northern California, which is expected to be a blockbuster.
SFMoMA is the fourth major US museum to announce a ticket-price hike from $25 to $30 this summer, after the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The trend started with the Metropolitan Museum of Art raising its out-of-town adult fee to $30 last summer, and more and more museums are now following suit. Meanwhile, elsewhere in California, many museums remain free.
In its announcement, SFMoMA emphasised that it will keep its designated “always free” galleries and atrium as well as offering free admission to Bay Area residents on the first Thursday of every month.
As to the reason for the price increase, the museum cited its reliance on admission fees to provide a significant portion of its operating budget: “General admission and membership revenue account for more than 22% of SFMoMA’s operating budget, making them essential sources of support for the institution. As is the case for many art museums across the country, SFMoMA’s attendance has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, with visitation in 2023 at approximately 65% of what it was in 2019. The decreased attendance figures, slow citywide recovery in the downtown core, inflation and other rising costs have necessitated the increases announced today.”