Museum Portion Control: The Dollar Menu


The most important take-away from the recent accidental tear of Picasso's "The Actor" at The Met has to do with portion size and endurance.  How many of us have been in near-similar positions at many of the huge, prestigious, overwhelming art and history museums?  You can only view so much and walk through so many galleries before you get museum fatigue, lose your balance, and then boom: history is destroyed.  It could happen to any of us. 

Why don't museums offer small tasting menus?  Dollar menus?  Just because I want to see a Rodin doesn't mean that I also have a whole afternoon to kill.  It would not only be a great way for a museum to generate some buzz and increase the frequency of visits, but it would allow them to dust off warehoused gems that are just sitting around, waiting for an artist/period-specific retrospective.

Sure, some museums have benefactor mandated "suggested donations" that allow you to pay any amount - but the ticket sellers always seem to shoot a scathing look when the name-your-price option is chosen, without knowing the intentionality behind the amount paid.  Perhaps some of the $2 donaters are just museum Dollar Menunaires ahead of their time.  (Other museums offer corporate-sponsored free Friday night admissions, but the spaces can get so crowded at these times as to reduce the value of the experience.)

A museum could develop a separate website devoted specifically to the new and upcoming dollar menu offerings.  I imagine that it would be prudent to not only dedicate a separate room off the main entrance to such an effort, but it would be important for the dollar menu items to be excluded from view of those paying regular admission.  It would firmly establish this as a different experience.

Perhaps the works could cycle in and out every 2 or 3 weeks.  Who knows, maybe the Sarcophagus of Constantina could become the museum world's McRib, appearing on the menu once every few years and drawing throngs of fans?

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