Every time Victoria Van Buskirk visits The Philadelphia Museum of Art, she meditates next to a Buddha statue in the South Asian Art exhibit.
Van Buskirk, a senior photography major, has visited the museum regularly for years, on class trips and with friends — free of charge, thanks to being a Tyler School of Art and Architecture student.
PMA revoked its policy to allow free admission to local art students of eight different Philadelphia-area art schools and programs, including Tyler School of Art and Architecture. The change began on July 1 and has forced students and faculty to adjust to the new policy this semester, which previously gave them free access for 40 years.
When Van Buskirk first learned she was losing her free student admission, she thought the news was an internet hoax.
“I was actually pretty shocked, I didn’t believe it at first, I thought it was just something going around,” she said.
The museum attributed the policy change to the growing number of fine art programs in the Philadelphia region, making it difficult to offer free admission to all programs equally. Tyler students will now have to pay the standard $14 student fee for two-day access upon showing a valid university ID.
PMA is also offering a year-long membership to Tyler students for $20, instead of $40, through Dec. 31, wrote Norman Keyes, the PMA’s director of communications, in an email to The Temple News.
Van Buskirk said the policy change will likely affect her future museum visits.
“[Students] are not going to have the money to want to go as often or even on their own if it’s not through school or they’re not being pushed to do so,” she added.
PMA notified Tyler of the policy change in a letter sent in early May, which the school then published on their website Aug. 2.
Hillel Hoffman, assistant dean for strategic communications at Tyler, wrote in an email that PMA has been an “invaluable partner” for the school, and helps make its location attractive for prospective students.
“We are hopeful that a solution can be reached that would give our students the same level of access that they’ve had in the past,” he wrote.
Miguel Jimenez, a senior architecture and community development major, said he feared the fee will discourage students from visiting the museum.
“Art is a right, and everyone should have the right to see art,” he added.
Though the original free admission policy was only intended for Tyler students, General Education Arts professors of Temple’s Gen-Ed Program had also used the free admission feature in their curriculums in the past, students told The Temple News.
The Gen-Ed’s PEX passport program still has an agreement for all Temple students to receive $5 admission to The Philadelphia Museum of Art once a semester, according to Dana Dawson, associate director of the general education program.
She was not notified of the Tyler student admission policy change, she added.
Maya Rahman, a junior biology major, had previously visited the museum while on a class trip for an Intellectual Heritage course through the Gen-Ed program.
“I think it’s really disappointing,” she said. “By taking this away, you’re limiting the history and the understanding, and a lot of the learning that could be done.”
The museum’s free admission policy for ages 0-12 will expand to include ages 13-18, who formerly paid a $14 admission fee, the PMA announced on Aug 28. The adult admission prices will also raise from $20 to $25, but the $14 student fee will remain the same. These changes will go into effect Oct. 1.
Keyes wrote that a strong relationship with Tyler students and the Temple community is very important to the museum.
“Access is highly important to the museum,” he wrote.
Keyes added that students can still utilize the museum’s pay-what-you-wish admission hours every Wednesday 5-8:45 p.m. and the first Sunday of every month.
“Museums should be free,” Jimenez said. “Especially that one, one of the most important museums, if not the most important museum in Philadelphia.”