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


Tallest residential building planned for lower Manhattan

A residential tower planned for lower Manhattan will soar 1,356 feet in the air -- just 12 feet shy of 1 World Trade Center. When…


Bronx man commits suicide by decapitation

A Bronx man committed suicide Monday morning in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx by decapitating himself. According to the NYPD, the 51-year-old man…


Top cops enroll in Twitter course at John…

NYPD officers are reportedly getting a lesson on the best way to use 140 characters or less. The New York Post reported Tuesday top officers…


Islamic state issues video of beheading of U.S.…

The Islamic State militant group released a video purporting to show the beheading of U.S. hostage Steven Sotloff, the SITE monitoring service reported on Tuesday.


Pop culture and prostitutes: New Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at…

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec documented the cult of celebrity and the rise of pop entertainment in his prints, posters and lithographs — now on display at MoMA.


PHOTO: Extreme artist Eskil Ronningsbakken balances unicycle on…

Extreme artist’ Eskil Ronningsbakken balances on the edge of a cliff face at 4,600 feet – on a unicycle. The Norwegian travels across the globe, balancing over vertiginous ravines, tall…


Hear two previously unreleased Adele songs

Missing some Adele in your life? Two previously unreleased songs from the singer have appeared online.


Lincoln Center just made 'Lord of the Rings'…

Middle Earth already has sweeping vistas, a hero's journey and technology-revolutionizing special effects. But next April, the Lincoln Center will add another dimension to Peter Jackson's…


Belinda Bencic leads crop of young stars serving…

Belinda Bencic, a 17-year-old Swiss Miss, beat two Top-10 players before suffering a disappointing loss Tuesday in the quarterfinals.


MLB Power Rankings: Angels take control, Tigers and…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels take control, Tigers and Giants climb


Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.


Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.


In defense of making a mess during playtime

"Recipes for Play" authors Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener think playtime should involve the five senses and making a mess is part of the fun.


Jason Hope helps push anti-aging efforts forward

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article When it comes to age-related illness, the direction of modern medicine seems more reactive than proactive. In…


Today's Doomsday preppers: a closer look at survivalist…

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. The term “Doomsday prepper” is often associated with the paranoid, anti-government stereotype of the 1990s. The truth…


These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…