The Philadelphia Museum of Art has quietly ended a policy of granting free admission to local art students.
Savvy art students have known about the perk for decades, but it was never highlighted by the museum.
“The museum has recognized a fundamental inequity in its practice of offering free admission benefits to only art students from eight select local schools,” a museum representative wrote in an email. “We recognize that visual culture is integrated into many disciplines today, not only art and art history. We are leveling the playing field so students of all majors and disciplines can benefit from equal access to the museum.”
Art students had enjoyed free admission since at least the 1970s, a perk that several said created a sense of a continuum between their own studies and the work of past masters in the museum collection.
The move, which was made in July, “feels like a huge step backward for a museum that claims to be making itself more accessible to a younger urban population but is raising the barrier to entry for the people most likely to benefit from arts exposure,” Jameela Wahlgren, a student at Tyler School of the Arts, said in an email.
The museum said it is working to improve access for all college-age students in the area. It is offering a special $20 membership deal every October and at CampusPhilly’s College Fest, which will take place Sept. 7 at Dilworth Park. (Regular student membership is $40.) It provides free admission all year and special access to members-only programs.
Other deals include a discounted two-day general admission good at all museum buildings for $14.
Regular admission is $20 per visit, and membership costs $75.
The spokesperson said the museum has also extended its special $20 student membership rate to the eight art schools that had been included in the historical free art school admission program through Dec. 31, 2019.
Those schools include the Community College of Philadelphia (all students); Drexel University (art students only); Moore College of Art & Design; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Philadelphia University (now part of Thomas Jefferson University); Tyler School of Art at Temple University; the University of the Arts; and University of Pennsylvania (art students only). The program was discontinued for the Art Institute of Philadelphia when the school closed in 2018.