The big donation that Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announced earlier this week turns out to be $20 million from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Described as a gift to all visitors of the museum in the earlier announcement, the money means the museum won't charge admission, director Don Bacigalupi said.
Would the museum really have charged $10 admission to the museum, as Bacigalupi said it was considering? Really?
From the press release:
“One of the greatest challenges for museums today is finding ways to remove barriers to community participation, including admission charges,” said Don Bacigalupi, Crystal Bridges executive director. “Walmart has shown extraordinary vision and foresight in funding access to the museum, providing all that Crystal Bridges has to offer to all people at no cost. We know that this gift will allow the museum to become a daily resource in our community.”
Given over a period of five years, the grant is the first gift dedicated to the museum’s newly created Next Generation Fund which addresses the economic, social and cultural barriers that often prevent diverse audiences from participating in the arts.
I've asked the museum whether this means it won't charge special admission fees to exhibits it pays to bring in from other museums and arts collaborators, and when I get a response I'll post it here.
UPDATE from the museum: There may be an additional charge for special exhibitions. General admission will be free. Museum members will receive complimentary or discounted admission to select exhibits and events.
The full release: