OLD TOWN — The Chicago History Museum goes before the Park District this week seeking to hike admission fees in exchange for making the museum free to 13- and 14-year-olds.
The museum has a measure on the agenda for the Park District Board meeting Wednesday that would allow a $3 increase in fees, while raising the age for free admission from 12 to anyone under 15.
According to Park District Chief Financial Officer Steve Lux, sponsor of the legislation, it's "necessary to offset the museum’s increased costs."
Vice President Russell Lewis, the museum's chief historian, said Monday it would raise an estimated $125,000, expected to go for maintenance at the building, 1601 N. Clark St., and its three storage facilities housing its 22 million objects and documents.
"Preserving Chicago's past and cultural heritage has a price tag," Lewis said.
The legislation points out the museum still offers 52 free days a year to Illinois residents, who get in free from 12:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays. Admission fees make up an estimated 8 percent of the museum's income.
Admission for Chicago residents would rise from $14 to $17 for adults, from $12 to $15 for seniors and students. For non-residents, admission would rise from $16 to $19 for adults, from $14 to $17 for seniors and students. If approved Wednesday, it would take effect Jan. 1.
According to the legislation, "In reviewing the Chicago History Museum’s request we compared their proposed pricing structure with other museums in the Chicago area as well as other history museums across the country and concluded that the museum’s proposed pricing structure is in line with other museums."
It would be the second hike in admission fees since the museum reopened in 2006, and the first since April of last year.
Lewis said the free admission for those under 15 was part of the museum's ongoing community outreach, especially efforts aimed at teenagers.
"We'd like to get more teens into the building," he said. "It's also kind of a sweet spot for families. That's the age when you can still get kids to do things with you.
"It's going to make it a little easier on pocketbooks for families," Lewis added.
The meeting is set for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Theater on the Lake, 2401 N. Lake Shore Drive.