The Metropolitan Museum of Art has signed a lease amendment with the city that says the museum can set its own admission fees and also charge for special exhibitions.
The amendment comes as the museum faces two recent lawsuits that claim the Met defrauds visitors into believing that their recommended admission fees are mandatory. According to the lawsuits, the museum has no legal power to charge for admission under its 1878 lease agreement with the city.
The Met has maintained that the city waived its free-admissions provision in 1970 when municipal funding was "no longer sufficient to allow the Museum to operate without charging admission fees."
In addition to confirming the decades-old admissions policy, the amendment "authorizes the museum, should the need arise, to consider a range of admission modifications in future years, subject as in the past to review and approval by the City," according to a statement released by the museum on Thursday.
Thomas Campbell, the Met's director and CEO, said the Met remains committed to widening public access to the museum, adding that it recently expanded its hours to open seven days a week and added programs to attract a visitors from all over the city.
"The effort to broaden and diversify audiences will continue," he said. "At the same time, however, faced with perennial uncertainties about future funding sources, the Met and the City concluded that it makes sense now to consecrate our longstanding and wholly legal admissions policies."