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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Gator Take: Make art more accessible for students

With membership exclusive exhibits, the de Young and Legion of Honor museums make seeing art exclusionary for students over 18 years old
Gator+Take%3A+Make+art+more+accessible+for+students

Discounted art museum tickets offered to students should include special exhibits.

A few friends and I decided to go to the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. With my San Francisco State University student ID, the general admission was $11. I decided that was a reasonable price, assuming I could see the entire museum.

But I was sorely mistaken.

The exhibits I wanted to see — the Irving Penn installation and Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style — cost extra to view.

These exhibits are not included in general admissions pricing. To visit the special exhibits, the student discount brings it to $23 each. For $46, this is much more expensive and not in the price range for a student today. College students already have a strict budgeted list that accounts for housing, tuition, groceries and school supplies. The undergraduate full-time cost of attendance for two semesters at SFSU is $31,852. This includes living on campus and tuition.

I would like to experience art and culture — but in this current economy, I can’t afford to spend $46 that doesn’t go towards groceries for the week.

Statistics have shown that 8% of people aged 18-25 want to see and book tickets for museums. According to Statista, 9% of people ages 30-49 years old have bought tickets for exhibits, compared to 3% of people ages 50-64 years old.

The de Young and SFSU should work to entice students to purchase more reasonably priced tickets.

As SFSU students, we should see all art exhibits for a reasonable price. It shouldn’t matter what the art is and there should not be a rise in price due to exclusive content.

The de Young is a non-profit museum, meaning funds are received from individuals, corporations and governments. Nonprofits work with programs and create strategies that benefit the public good.

But charging extra for exclusive exhibits, in my opinion, does not benefit the greater good. Exhibits for students, with tickets purchased with a valid student ID, should not be separated from the general public just to make an extra buck.

Art should not be exclusive; it should be accessible to everyone. Younger people, myself included, want to see art and visit museums.

The de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park on May 2, 2024. (Neal Wong / Golden Gate Xpress) (Neal Wong)

Membership for the de Young and Legion of Honor museums ranges from $119 to $229, depending on the membership package. An individual membership provides admission for one person, access to all exhibitions, 10% off at the museum store and a subscription to Fine Arts Magazine.

“Member-only access to special exhibits,” as said on the website, is exclusionary language.

While the de Young Museum offers free Saturday admission for Bay Area residents, this does not include the entire museum. Exclusion in art shouldn’t be allowed. It is pretentious and ignorant. Young people want to see art, and students benefit from learning about other cultures and histories. A hands-on experience at a museum is the perfect place to retain this information.

According to the de Young Museum website, membership discounts are available for students, people with disabilities, out-of-state residents, teachers and seniors. But no information on said discounts is listed on the membership page. Instead, there is a phone number and email to contact the museum.

As SFSU students, we should see all art exhibits for a reasonable price. It shouldn’t matter what the art is and there should not be a rise in price due to exclusive content.

A good example of inclusive practices is at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. For only $7 more, students with a valid ID can see all exhibits at the LACMA. There are no exclusive or members-only exhibits. While $18 can be expensive in some students’ budgets, there is an opportunity to see all the exhibits in the museum.

According to the museum website, “this offer applies only to permanent collection galleries; additional fees may apply for special exhibitions.”

While free admission is being offered, exhibits are still being kept from a range of people who cannot afford a membership or to pay for special exhibits.

To be less exclusive for SFSU students, the de Young and Legion of Honor should not charge $23 to students who thought they had to pay $11.

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About the Contributors
Natalie Metcalf
Natalie Metcalf, Staff Reporter
Natalie Metcalf (she/her) is a staff reporter from the Golden Gate Xpress. She is majoring in journalism and minoring in creative writing. She was born in New York City and raised in Los Angeles. Metcalf has previously worked as The Valley Life editor at The Valley Star, the independent student newspaper at Los Angeles Valley College. During her free time, she enjoys reading, journaling, writing poetry and making themed Spotify playlists.
Neal Wong
Neal Wong, Co-Copy Editor
Neal Wong (he/him) is a third-year journalism student and minoring in urban studies and planning. He was born and raised in San Francisco and attended Washington High School. He has photographed and written for Golden Gate Xpress first as a contributor, then as a photographer, and now as a copy editor. His photos have also been published by the San Francisco Bay ViewSan Francisco Public Press, Mission Local, and Xpress Magazine. Neal has also created and taught four SFSU Experimental College courses. His hobbies include traveling, cooking, and reading.

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