Art Institute and Museum of Science and Industry admission fees could go up

  • Spectators gather after the 20th annual "Wreathing of the Lions" at the Art Institute Chicago in 2011.
Spectators gather after the 20th annual "Wreathing of the Lions"… (Keri Wiginton/ Chicago…)
January 15, 2013|By Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco | RedEye

The general admission fees for the Art Institute and Museum of Science and Industry could go up in part because the city is now charging for water and sewer service. Those expenses used to be waived.

The Chicago Park District's board of commissioners will consider the fee increases at Wednesday's meeting.

The proposed increase of $2 to get into the Art Institute would take effect Feb. 1.

Currently, Chicago adults pay $16 to enter. It would cost $18 if the proposal is approved. The price for out-of-state tourists would go up from $18 to $23.

The last time the Art Institute admission fee went up was nearly four years ago, according to documents. If approved, it would be the Institute's third change in admission prices in the last 10 years.

The admission increase would help cover "inflationary increases in wages" and support its educational program. Plus, the city is now charging for water usage, sewer service and construction permits, and those expenses used to be waived by the city, documents said.

"After these increases, the Art Institute of Chicago will continue to be the lowest-priced major cultural institution in Chicago when considering the all-inclusive price," the park district document said.

The Museum of Science and Industry's proposed general admission fee increase of $2 would be effective Jan. 17 if approved.

Chicago adults now pay $13 to get in. Non-resident adults pay $15 but that would increase to $18.

The museum has not increased its fees since January 2010, and the proposed pricing structure is in line with other museums in the Chicago area and science museums across the country, documents said.

The increase is to offset low revenues and high operating expenses.

As far as revenues go, operating revenue has stayed flat since 2007 and tax revenue support is expected to be the lowest since 2005, documents said. In addition, the museum's endowment was "curtailed by the decline in the financial markets," documents said.

At the same time, operating expenses have grown. For example, capital improvements and repairs are needed. Recently installed permanent exhibits require maintenance and staffing. Three new permanent exhibits are planned over the next two years. And the city is now charging for water usage, sewer service and construction permits, the documents said.

The museum also offers free admission to all Illinois school groups, free passes to "Rahm's Readers" library program participants and about 1.2 million free general admission tickets to Chicago Public Schools students and their families as an incentive for first-day-of-school attendance.

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