Parents Talk: Are Museums Getting Too Expensive?

Even after cutting corners, a trip to the Field Museum cost $75 for one mom and one kid. Parents, please weigh in in the Comments section.

I couldn't resist the pretty picture of the box of chocolates promoting the Field Museum's "Chocolate" exhibit. But for one mom and one kid, the admission ($40, including the "Chocolate" special exhibit), CTA fares ($7), parking at the Cumberland CTA station ($5), lunch ($15), snacks ($6) and souvenir ($2) totalled a whopping $75.

For a family of four, double that, and if you drive down, figure in $19 or so for parking, plus gasoline.

We didn't bother to check our coats, for a charge of $2 for each item.

The museum was nearly empty (on a Tuesday). That leaves one to wonder: in these economic times, are Chicago's downtown museums pricing themselves out of the reach of some families?

Parents, please scroll down to the "Comments" and give your opinion.

Laura Wagner November 10, 2011 at 05:00 AM
I absolutely agree. And it wasn't always this way. When I was in college 25 years ago, the Art Institute had a RECOMMENDED donation of $4--which meant you could pay a quarter and get in if you were a poor student (or poor anybody). Now the required admission fee is $18. According to all inflation indexes, the buying power of $4 in 1987 equates to $8 in 2011. Now, $8 is reasonable; I would be happy to pay that to get in to the Art Institute. But $18? Spare me. A day out at a museum for my husband, my son, and me easily costs around $100 (that's including transportation, whether public or driving--both are between $20 and $30 for 2 adults and 1 child--and a very cheap fast-food lunch). Not something we can do more than once a year or so.
Pam DeFiglio November 10, 2011 at 06:48 AM
Yes, the Art Institute used to let you pay the amount you wanted. It was a pretty progressive policy. I guess it was based on the idea that art is for everyone, rich, poor and in-between.
Robert November 10, 2011 at 03:40 PM
Not just museums, but everything is way too expensive. It used to be nice to take a ride into Chicago to go to the Science Museum, Field Museum, Adler Planetarium and the Art Institute. After visiting those places, we then used to go to someplace to eat and just look around. Not anymore. I feel Chicago is way too expensive. Not to mention parking fees even on Sundays. I'll take my business elsewhere. There are plenty of places in the suburbs that are way cheaper and just as fun.
Beth Buzil November 27, 2011 at 06:01 PM
There are still wonderful places that are quite affordable for the whole family. Just yesterday I visited the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago to see their ancient Egyptian exhibit with my son who just studied ancient Egypt in school. It's a wonderful museum on ancient civilization with a wonderful collection. Suggested donation is $7 for adults and $4 for kids. We parked right on the street just steps away from the entrance. So easy! The place is big enough but not so totally overwhelming and big like the Science or Field museum where I am always exhausted half way through. A volunteer took us on a very informative and personal tour at no extra cost. The gift shop had beautiful artifacts and tribal jewelry at very good prices. With the reasonable suggested donation at the entrance, I even had money left to spend on a beautiful old Moroccan hamsa pendant $11 and glass beaded earrings for $7 in the gift shop. Museum, tour, free parking and 2 beautiful gift shop jewelry gifts totaled $29. Not bad and we were able to splurge on dinner in Greek Town on our way home. This museum is really fabulous and we had a great day. Really who needs those huge rip off museums with all the bells, whistles, 3D movies and crowds? Really more to learn and see on a smaller scale. I highly recommend checking out some of the smaller museums.
Pam DeFiglio November 27, 2011 at 08:08 PM
Good point, Beth. The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston is another good smaller museum--lots of great stuff, manageable size and cost.


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