The National Building Museum announced this morning that it will begin charging admission for the first time since the museum opened its doors in 1985. The fees ($8 for adults, $5 for seniors, students, and kids) will go into effect July 27, and apply only to exhibits, and not the massive, iconic great hall that the museum is perhaps best known for.
Museum executive director Chase W. Rynd cited the effects of the recession as the main reason for the change. In an excerpt of an internal memo released to reporters, Rynd called the recession "particularly devastating for the culture and arts community, as well as the building and design industry."
"Around the world and in our backyards, the landscape for nonprofit organizations has shifted dramatically," Rynd wrote. "Those who wait too long to realize this truth or dismiss it entirely are likely to become casualties of the era. Under no circumstances will we allow this to be the fate of the National Building Museum."
The museum will waive the entrance fee for active duty military personnel members and their families between Labor Day and Memorial Day. And families content with only visiting the interactive Building Zone feature of the museum, which is designed for children ages 2 to 6, can pay just $3 per person.
Despite its name, the NBM is actually a private organization, and is one of the few such museums in Washington that doesn't charge. And $8 is still less than the Corcoran ($10), Phillips Collection ($12), and Newseum ($21.95). Still, with this city's plethora of free museums and exhibits, we can imagine some NBM devotees will be disappointed by this news.