Desi Talk – that’s all you need to know 31 January 12, 2018 ARTS & BOOKS By Sujeet Rajan -NEWYORK he Metropolitan Museum of Art, likely high in the list of ‘The Best Things in the World are Free’ for many regular visitors – who revel in the mind boggling 5,000 years of art treasures and exhibitions from around the world in the gargantuan two million square feet of space, apart from the separate Met Breuer and the Cloisters museum buildings which fall under its aegis in NewYork City – will charge a mandatory fee of $25 for all non-NewYorker adult visitors, beginning March 1, 2018. The move to clamp down on the pay-as-you-wish poli- cy at counters that has been in effect since 1970 because the museum on Fifth Avenue is located on City-owned land, has been brewing since last year. The NewYork Times reported early last year that the museum was run- ning a nearly $40 million deficit. The NewYorker reported that construction on a major new wing for modern and contemporary art, which was estimated to cost $600 million, and was intended to open in 2020, the year of the museum’s 150th anniversary, was indefinitely postponed. Mayor Bill de Blasio has been an avid fan of mandatory pricing for visitors. He told the Times in an interview: “I’m a big fan of Russian oligarchs paying more to get into the Met.” According to the new rule, to be implemented from March 1, mandatory admission for visitors from outside NewYork State will match the current suggested admis- sions prices: $25 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $12 for students. Admission for all children under 12 will remain free; students from New Jersey and Connecticut will come under the existing pay-as-you-wish rule. Special exhibi- tions, guided tours, and gallery talks will also continue to be free with museum admission. Full-price tickets will include entry to the Met Breuer and the Cloisters muse- ums too, for three consecutive days. The Met projects that the updated policy will affect 31 percent of all museum visitors. “The Met will continue to serve all of NewYork and our visitors from around the nation and the world for genera- tions to come,” said Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of The Met, in a statement. For the first year of this revised policy, the Met’s Board of Trustees will provide funding to enable this access. Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Co, reasoned in a statement on the new policy for Met, which has grown to become the largest art museum in the world and the most visited tourist attraction in NewYork City: “We feel that visitation to the City will continue to thrive despite a move to charge admission to tourists at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This pricing approach is also not uncom- mon. Given that there is already reduced admission at The Met for seniors, students, and children, by any measure, the $25 admission fee is still an extraordinary value to access the world’s greatest encyclopedic collection of art.” Each of NewYork City’s other large museums either requires mandatory admission for all visitors or charges for special exhibitions (and some do both). The Met’s glob- al peers, including the Smithsonian museums and the National Gallery of Art inWashington, D.C., receive large percentages of their funding from government sources. In 2017, The Met received just 10 percent of its annual $305 million budget from NewYork City, the majority of which was earmarked for utility costs for the building and a smaller percentage for payroll for security and buildings staff. Under this new policy, City support for the Museum may be reduced by up to $3 million annually, based on the amount of additional revenue generated from admissions. In recent years, the Museum has experienced a signifi- cant decline in revenue generated per visitor under the pay-as-you-wish policy. In 2004, 63 percent of visitors con- tributed the full suggested admission. Today, only 17 per- cent of adults pay the full amount: a 73 percent decline. The average per-person contribution has also fallen to $9, the Met stated. The museum estimates the revised policy will increase admissions revenue as a percentage of The Met’s overall budget by 2 to 3 percent. The Met’s internal research indicates that four out of five will be tourists from out- side the tri-state area or from over- seas who spend an average of $1,200 per person on their trips to NewYork. Furthermore, 41 percent of visitors pay no admis- sions when they visit The Met because they are members or are with groups or are children under 12, and 14 percent enter on discounted pass- es such as City Pass. Thirty per- cent of Met visi- tors are from New York City, and 6 percent are from NewYork State areas outside the City. The Met’s revised admis- sions policy is similar to plans adopted by other major museums in the United States that offer discounts to local visitors with proof of residence, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. In NewYork City, the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum and the NewYork Botanical Garden also offer discounts to local visitors. The Met is preparing a list of forms of identification that it will accept as proof of NewYork State residence or Tri-state student status, including IDNYC, library cards, and current bills with a NewYork State mailing address. PRIEST’S CROWNS OF NEPAL For those who suddenly feel the zeal to take in the museum’s beautiful artworks – before the March 1 expensive family outing proposition kicks into effect, recommended is the new exhibition of the Vajracharya priest’s crowns of Nepal, located in the South Asian exhibition gallery. The ‘Crowns of the Vajra Masters: Ritual Art of Nepal’ includes five crowns—the largest group ever dis- played, evoking the five transcendent Buddhas. This will be the first- ever exhibition to cele- brate this unique tradi- tion in Nepalese Buddhism. Both a caste name and priestly title, Vajracharya translates as ‘thunderbolt scepter [vajra] master,’ the vajra being the quintessential symbol of the Vajrayana system of esoteric Buddhism. The crowns date from the 13th to the 18th centu- ry, and the exhibition examines their devotional use, iconography, and stylistic evolution. It will also con- sider how the crowns preserve the memory of early Indian Buddhist practices that otherwise would be lost to us; these practices can be traced back to the fifth century and the great mural paintings of Ajanta. They are augmented by Nepalese paintings and ritu- al objects that were used to performVajrayana ritu- als. AICON GALLERY EXHIBITION For those who like art from the subcontinent, ‘Born of Fire |A Tale for our Times,’ an exhibition of works by the artist Jayasri Burman will be on display at the Aicon Gallery, in NewYork City, from January 19-February 24, 2018. The Calcutta-born Burman, who has studied printmaking in Paris, and now lives and works in India, has an extended family of renowned artists, including husband Paresh Maity, and uncle Sakti Burman who lives and works in France. Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: sujeet@newsindia-; follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1 EMPIRE CITY Met Museum To Charge $25 FromNon-New Yorkers, FromMarch 1, 2018 Met Museum. T MetMuseum ‘Yagna Shari’ by Jayasri Burman. ‘Cheer Haran’ by Jayasri Burman.