Day #040: Serious student discounts at museums

Experience is the backbone of education. More dramatic two-part pricing could attract a different audience while furthering the mission of Richmond’s museums. 

Inspired by Michael Bierut’s 100 Day Project, 100 Days to a Better RVA strives to introduce and investigate unique ideas to improving the city of Richmond. View the entire project here and the intro here.

  • Idea: Serious student discounts and student nights at Richmond museums.
  • Difficulty: 1 — Financing would be the biggest hurdle.

Experience is the backbone of true education. Unfortunately, students will never be able to see Picasso in the studio or visit postbellum Richmond. Fortunately, Richmond has plenty of museums that transport inquisitive minds to other worlds and other times.

None of Richmond’s museums have oppressive prices which is impressive, because RVA has some great museums for a mid-sized city. The VMFA and Holocaust Museum are even free for all visitors.

With a 40% discount ($10/$6), the Wilton House Museum offers one of the best student discounts in town. Many museums have no student discounts. The Museum of the Confederacy, which includes the White House of the Confederacy and Appomattox Courthouse, doesn’t offer any student advantages.

In 2013, they announced a combination with the American Civil War Museum at Tredgar Iron Works to creating the American Civil War Museum. The new museum is in the process of considering everything from student ticket prices to deals with local universities and student hours.

Ideas don’t need to be limited to discounted tickets. Museums could work out deals for collegiate I.D. cards from UR, VCU, and VUU and have student activity fees make up the difference.1 Museums could offer one-time free admission to college students without breaking the bank. MoMA has UNIQLO Free Fridays which is clearly geared towards younger visitors.

Capturing the imaginations of 20 year-olds isn’t easy, but a few new fans of a museums can one day turn into advocates, members, or donors.

Maybe student-status isn’t the best way to means-test ticket prices. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City charges a $25 suggested donation. Only six in ten visitors pay less than that. A system of suggested donations could capture the benefits of enabling student entrance while allowing other less fortunate members a venue for access.

Cheaper museum tickets for students may seem like small potatoes, but easier access to the stories and artifacts of Richmond’s, Virginia’s, and the world’s history is a worthy pursuit–especially if it can be done without burdening the budgets of museums.

Photo by: Walid’sPics

Love this idea? Think it’s terrible? Have one that’s ten times better? Head over to the 100 Days to a Better RVA Facebook page and join in the conversation.

  1. In 2010, $100,000 in VCU student fees were used to bring Asher Roth and Wiz Kalifa to VCU.  
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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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