"There has been a real interest across the country to ensure the museum is accessible to all audiences," said museum President
To offset the lost income, the museum received a grant from the
Mickenberg declined to say the amount of the grant, but said, "Numbers divert attention from the true story -- that SOTA has provided an exceptional gift."
The free admission -- a savings of
"Heaven and Earth" features 40 paintings by some of the greatest names in Italian art, including Botticelli, Bellini and Titian.
To encourage accessibility, those exhibits will have all their text available in Spanish as well as English. And the museum is doing outreach to radio stations, publications and organizations that serve the Spanish-speaking community.
Mickenberg said additional benefits will be given to museum members who may have joined to get free admission. Those benefits will include increased benefits in the gift shop and cafe and exclusive activities.
Mickenberg said free summer admission is not an original idea; museums such as the
In addition to increasing accessibility, Mickenberg said the museum sees free admission as "a great way to kick off our 80th anniversary year. It's an opportunity for us to say thank you to the community for encouragement, support and participation."
Mickenberg, who has been at the museum for seven months, said the museum also hopes that free admission will enable it to gather more information from the public about how they feel about the museum -- "how we're doing our job, what they'd like to see" -- so it can tailor programs to public needs and desires and increase the profile and popularity of the museum.
"For us this is an exploration, experimentation," he said. "Our desire is to communicate to everybody that this is welcoming to all."
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