Metropolitan Museum of Art Sued Over "Voluntary Admissions"
RECOMMENDED OR Forced? A sign at the Metropolitan Museum of Art indicates you don’t really have to pay $ 25 dollars. (Photo: Dan Brinzac)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art faces a potential $40 million payout if it loses the suits which seek compensation for members and visitors who paid with a credit card in the past few years. The suits were filed in Manhattan Supreme Court. A museum spokesman declined to provide a copy of the agreement with the city that dictates fee policies in exchange for generous subsidies and free rent at the Central Park site.
A former Metropolitan Museum of Art supervisor claims he was often ordered to threaten the removal of visitors who refused to fork over the recommended high admission fees, according to the New York Post.
“I arranged for security officers to forcibly remove the museum visitors who demanded entry without paying,” the whistleblower told The Post.
He plans to provide evidence in two multimillion-dollar lawsuits against the museum brought by five visitors who claim they each were duped into paying the $25 entrance fee when, in fact, the fee is supposed to be voluntary.
The ex-employee, who worked at the Fifth Avenue institution from 2007 to 2011 overseeing cashiers and security, requested anonymity because he is job-hunting.
He insists he is not a disgruntled staffer, but came forward because he thinks management is too focused on stuffing its coffers.
“Their attitude toward the public is the public is a cash cow,” he claimed.
Ticket takers “are trained and instructed to pressure and embarrass visitors into paying the stated admission fee,” which is up to $25 per head, the Manhattan Supreme Court suits charge.
The whistleblower, who holds degrees from Yale and Fordham, alleges that one of his bosses told him to shred documents about enforcing fees.
“It’s the most for-profit nonprofit I’ve ever seen in my life,” he insisted.
The Met faces a potential $40 million payout if it loses the suits, which seek compensation for members and visitors who paid with a credit card in the past few years.
Museum spokesman Harold Holzer denied the accusations.
“The predicate of the lawsuit is the museum is supposed to be open for free — that’s not the case,” Holzer said.
He declined to provide a copy of the agreement with the city that dictates fee policies in exchange for generous subsidies and free rent at the Central Park site.
The museum, with more than 6 million visitors annually, “was started as a public institution to bring art to the masses,” attorney Michael Hiller said.
“What it has become is an elite tourist attraction that is really counter to its original purpose.”