Metropolitan Museum of Art retires beloved admission buttons

Credit: Bess Adler/Metro New York
Credit: Bess Adler/Metro New York

For decades, a shiny, colored button emblazed with an “M” was a mark of pride for tourists and New Yorkers who recently visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

But after 42 years, the Met retired the admission tokens Monday, citing the tin plate button’s rising costs and increased flexibility of a new paper ticketing system.

“I regret it slightly myself,” Thomas P. Campbell, the museum’s director, told The New York Times.

Each button costs about three cents, but to accommodate more than six million annual visitors, the museum orders about 1.6 million tokens four times a year, amounting to roughly $192,000 annually. A few years ago, the tokens were about two cents—$64,000 less.

“We realize, without sounding crass, that it’s a beloved brand and a beloved symbol,” Met spokesman Harold Holzer told the Times. “It just became too expensive. We saw that it was inevitable.”

Paper tickets, on the other hand, will only cost about a penny. They’re easier on the environment, too, as many visitors ignored the button-recycling bin at the museum’s exit and kept it as a souvenir.

The same day the Met converted to paper ticketing, the museum opened on a Monday for the first time since 1971, when “suggested” admission pricing was established and the buttons were first issued.

There have been hundreds of colors over time, but 16 colors, from a pale pink “piglet” to a dark blue “midnight,” were part of the final circulation.

The “M” is based on a 16th century book with woodcuts adapted from Leonardo da Vinci. As much as proof of purchase as a barge of honor, attempts to collect all colors were not unheard of.

“One of my assistants has a whole rainbow of the colored buttons on her desk,” Campbell said.

Ironically, the announcement signaling the end of the tokens features a graphic depicting their well-known likeness.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


Girl, 10, dies after being pulled from water…

A 10-year-old girl died after being pulled from the waters off Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, police said.


NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…


Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.


Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…


'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 7,…

Drunk girls and ghost brownies: here’s your weekly ‘Pretty Little Liars’ recap by way of Q&A. Q: do they really not check for feet under…


Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.


Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.


'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.


David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.


Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.


MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack


2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?


Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.


5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.


Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…


Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.