The Met wants to charge out-of-state visitors to get in

Metropolitan Museum of Art (BigStock Photo)

(CNN)– Talk about a hometown advantage.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has filed a proposal with Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s office to charge out-of-state visitors for admission.

“The Met has submitted an initial proposal to continue the suggested admissions policy for all New York City and State residents, while moving to a mandatory admissions fee for out of state residents, and we will review it carefully,” the mayor’s cultural affairs department said in a statement.

Right now, the museum has a “pay what you wish” policy for all visitors, which has been in place since 1970. It advises that adults pony up $25, but many visitors choose to see the exhibits for far less (and even for a penny).

It looks like the museum can’t afford the system anymore. It may hold high-profile fundraising events like the Met Gala, but the institution ended its most recent fiscal year with an $8.3 million deficit, according to its annual report.

In April 2016, the Met adopted a major restructuring and cost cutting plan to address its growing debt.

Charging some visitors for entrance could help ease financial woes. But the museum can’t snap its fingers and make the change.

Because the museum sits on New York City-owned property and receives yearly subsidies from the mayor’s office, it has to consult with the city before it alters its admissions policies, as per its lease agreement, a city spokesman said.

Though it’s not a done deal, de Blasio expressed his support for the policy at a press conference last month.

“I’m a big fan of Russian oligarchs paying more to get into the Met,” he said.

The price of admission at the Met has proved a thorny issue before.

In 2013, a class action lawsuit was filed against the museum, claiming that it misled visitors into believing they had to pay for admission in violation of its lease. The Met settled the suit in 2016 and agreed to change its signs to advertise “suggested admission” instead of “recommended admission.”

The Met was the sixth most visited museum in the world in 2015, according to the Themed Entertainment Association’s most recent annual index.

It technically has three locations across the city — the Met Fifth Avenue, the Met Cloisters and the new Met Breuer.

They collectively had 6.7 million visitors in the most recent fiscal year, which ended in June 2016. That’s the most traffic the museum has had since it began keeping admission statistics more than 40 years ago, according to a press release.

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