For the first time, Chicago museum-goers will be able to enjoy a week of special discounts and events at 12 of the Windy City’s finest museums. Museum Week, sponsored by the Chicago Park District, will take place Oct. 1 to Oct. 7, allowing guests to visit these 12 institutions with discounts and free admissions for select museums, events and special programs.
Museum week comes in the wake of the Field Museum of Natural History’s request to raise its admission prices. Between paying more than 540 employees and maintaining the grounds of the historic site, the Field Museum administration concluded that it needs to start increasing revenue for the museum.
The Field Museum requested an admissions price increase ranging from $1 to $3, according to Field Museum Chief Marketing Officer Ray DeThorne. For Chicago residents, adult fees would increase from $13 to $17, fees for children ages 3 to 11 would rise from $8 to $9, and senior and student fees would increase from $10 to $11, according to DeThorne.
Since the Chicago Park District owns the land on which the Field Museum sits, the museum proposed the price increase to the Park District board on Sept. 9.
For visitors who are not Chicago residents, adult fees would rise from $18 to $20, fees for children ages 3 to 11 would increase from $13 to $15, and senior and student fees would jump from $15 to $17. Admission for all children ages 3 and under would remain free.
DeThorne said he hopes to have these price changes approved because it will be beneficial to staff.
“We are an academic institution in addition to a museum,” said DeThorne. “We have employees actively studying science around the world, and they need to be paid.”
The legislation on the Chicago Park District website further explains that the price increase would help take care of maintenance and personnel costs. The museum building is more than 100 years old and has continual upkeep expenses.
The Chicago Park District Director of Communications Jessica Faulkner said the Park District Board has decided to table the request to increase the prices until further notice.
Loyola junior Sammi Saliba, 20, does not think the $1 increase will make much of a difference for her.
“I don’t go to the museum all the time, so it’s not a big deal for me to pay an extra dollar,” said Saliba, 20. “It will mean much more to the museum getting a dollar more from every visitor. It could make a big difference for them, financially.”
DeThorne said he believes the price change will not reduce the number of visitors to the museum. Instead, he said he thinks the change will have a positive impact on the museum, which he calls an “invaluable resource” to the people of Chicago.
“These price changes will allow us to maintain the staff that we have and invigorate the museum with new displays to make it more captivating,” DeThorne said.
Despite the admission price concerns, Field Museum visitors will be able to enjoy two new exhibits. An exhibit called The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great is scheduled to open November 2015 and an exhibit about the ancient Terracotta Warriors is scheduled to arrive in March 2016.