Ticket price as a barrier to access, part 2: Science museums

It’s no secret that museums as a whole are in financial difficulties; some institutions are in deep trouble, or on their way there. A typical — and understandable — response has been to raise admission fees. My question is whether, in doing so, museums are unwittingly imposing a significant barrier to visitor access. 

In Part 1 we looked at admission prices at eight leading art museums in the United States. Now let’s look at seven science centers and aquariums. As for the art museums, this is the estimated cost of admission for a family of four — two adults, one senior, one youth/student:

American Museum of Natural History: $108.50 (for special exhibitions, which take up a good deal of the exhibit space, and are heavily promoted; permanent exhibits are pay-what-you-will)

Boston Museum of Science: $75

Shedd Aquarium: $92.80

Museum of Science and Industry: $47

California Academy of Sciences: $84.80

Exploratorium: $48.00

Monterey Bay Aquarium: $105.80

Average price of admission, family of four: $80 (not including parking/transit, food, gift shop, etc.).

This is 30 dollars more than the average cost of an art museum visit — significant in that science centers are perceived to be more “family friendly” than art museums.

Some additional notes and observations in Part 3.

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