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Museums Aren't Attracting Diverse Crowds

By Joanna Miller in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 16, 2006 6:08PM

sci.jpgA new study has found that Chicago’s museums attract crowds that are disproportionately white, educated and affluent. In other breaking news, there may be some corruption issues in city government, and the Cubs aren’t exactly the winningest team in baseball.

At least one museum official was shocked (shocked!) by the news and wondered, "Is it the hours?" and "Is price a factor?" and "[Are people] overscheduled with soccer practice and everything?" Um, yes, yes, and huh? If by "and everything" you mean jobs, then maybe.

Is it the hours? Well, most of the major museums close between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on most days, so probably. Is price a factor? Chicagoist took a quick look at prices for major museums in the city and, despite our math phobia, calculated the costs for two adults and two children as Chicago residents. A trip to the Museum of Science and Industry would cost $32.50 for general admission and an additional $54.50 to see one Omnimax movie for a total of $87. Even if you skip the Omnimax – and good luck explaining that one to the kids since it’s probably why they wanted to come in the first place – it still ain’t cheap.adler.jpg

The Field Museum’s gold pass is its lowest-cost option and includes entry to one special exhibit – it would cost the family $50. The Shedd Aquarium’s all-access pass would run them $54. Admission only would be a mere $18, but again, what’s the fun in that?

The Adler Planetarium’s galaxy pass, which includes one show and audio tour, would be $54, and they’d pay $38 for a trip to the Art Institute. All the big museums offer free or discount days throughout the year, but they rarely coincide with extended hours.

Add in public transportation for four and one meal at a fast food restaurant, and it’s at least another $30. Like we said, we’re no math quiz, but it’s pretty easy to see that a family on a tight budget can’t afford our city’s biggest museums.

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