The Most Expensive Museums in America

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Museums play an important part in America’s cultural life, sharing not just art but history, biography, and more. They showcase some of humankind’s most heralded achievements and also sometimes some of our darkest moments. In addition, museum architecture can often be worth seeing all on its own. (A few are among the most popular Instagram attractions in the world.)

Some museums are free to the public – but it costs a lot to collect and maintain a good museum, staff it properly, and install and monitor effective security systems.  Costs add up and while many museums enjoy local or federal government support and private endowments, they usually also need to fund their operation through admission fees.

To identify the most expensive art museums in the USA, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on price inflation at major U.S. attractions provided by coupon distribution platform and website DealA. The site considered 40 top American museums, comparing the price of a single adult general admission ticket as of December 23, 2021, with the equivalent ticket price in 2017, derived from each museum’s 2017 web pages accessed via the Wayback Machine. If online and in-person ticket prices differed, online prices were used. Automatically applied promotional prices were not considered. When ticket prices differed by day, the starting price of a general admission ticket was used.

Some of the institutions on this list are world-class art museums, like New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Others focus on history or science – for instance, the USS Midway Museum and the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex. All of them provide experiences that cannot be found anywhere else. (These are America’s cultural capitals.)

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