Historical museum in Michigan will reinstate an entrance fee

October 26, 2019 GMT

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit museum will begin charging patrons an admissions fee next month to remedy an increasing budget deficit, raising concerns from locals who say the fee may make the museum inaccessible to low-income residents.

The Detroit Historical Museum will charge adults $10 and seniors, students, active-duty military and first responders will pay $8. Children ages 6 to 17 will pay $6.

Elana Rugh, who is the museum director and CEO, said the museum lost $297,000 last year.

“Fortunately, we have reserves in place that have been helping us the past few years,” Rugh said. “But we need to look at a different funding model, and access all income available to us.”

The museum had a budget deficit of $1.07 million in 2017 and $1.05 million in 2016, according to the Detroit Historical Society financial records. It spent $2.4 million in 2017 in salaries, compensation and other employee benefits and $2.1 million in 2016, the Detroit News reported. The museum’s 2019 operating budget is about $4.5 million.

Residents of Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck will be able to enter at no cost.

Ken Coleman, a Detroit historian, said he worries the fee will prevent low-income people from outside those cities from visiting the museum

“I believe that history is an important aspect of all of our lives, and it should be part of our education system and our society,” he said.

Michael S. Rafferty, president and CEO of New Detroit, a racial justice organization, hopes the admission does not discourage people from learning about Detroit’s history.

“They did a really great job with ‘Detroit 67’ project,” Rafferty said. “That type of programming goes a long way toward educating the region and contributing toward racial equity.”

Previously, the museum had an entrance fee from 1951 to 2012. A fundraising campaign helped grant free admission for a year, which ended up lasting seven years, Rugh said.

John Decker, a museum trustee who sits on the executive committee, said it’s important to the board of trustees and the Detroit Historical Society, which founded the museum, to offer free admission to Detroit residents.

“But revenue from the new admissions policy will allow us to continue to provide world-class, impactful exhibitions such as the award-winning ‘Detroit 67’ project, which won prizes both nationally and on the world stage,” Decker said.

The new policy could allow for museum expansion and new programming and exhibits, Rugh said.

“We’re going to ramp up everything to tell Detroit stories and preserve the treasures we’re entrusted with,” Rugh said.


Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/