DOWNTOWN — General admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is now $2 more.
The Chicago Park District Board on Wednesday unanimously approved the across-the-board admission fee increases for the Michigan Avenue museum. Chicagoans will now pay $20 per visit, up from $18, while other Illinois residents will pay $22 and out-of-state visitors $25. Discounted rates for students and seniors were also raised to $14 and $16, respectively, for Chicagoans and Illinoisans.
The Art Institute, which last raised its prices in 2013, required Park Board approval for the increase because it sits on parkland. Admission will remain free for visitors ages 13 and under.
"We have no current plan to say, 'Every two years we’ll do this,'" said David Thurm, the Art Institute's chief operating officer. "At this point we’re at $25 and that’s a comfortable level for us to be, and frankly matches what other art museums are charging in other parts of the country."
One of the city's leading cultural institutions, the Art Institute drew 1.4 million visitors last year. About 262,000 of them, or 18 percent, got in free (not including school tours), Thurm said. The next-closest free rate was at the Shedd Aquarium, where 11 percent of nonschool visitors got in free last year. Personnel costs make up about 50 percent of the museum's expenses, Thurm said, with pay raises driving increased costs.
Thurm said the Art Institute derives between 12 and 13 percent of its revenue from tickets, and 5 percent from the park district. Park Board Commissioner Juan Salgado asked Thurm to consider, if future price increases are contemplated, to weigh them more toward out-of-towners "given Chicago taxpayers are yielding 5 percent."
It's the second time this year the museum's prices garnered attention, after two state lawmakers proposed a bill that would cut free days at Chicago museums by half. That bill has been pending in the General Assembly's rules committee since April.
Admission to the Art Institute will remain free from 5-8 p.m. Thursday evenings for Illinois residents.
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