How to Pay-What-You-Wish at NYC Museums, MET Cloisters, Inwood Park

The Pep Talk I Give Myself Before I Pay-What-I-Wish at a NYC Museum

Lots of museums and cultural institutions around NYC say that their admission fee is merely a suggested donation and that you can pay-what-you-wish. It’s a policy that’s supposed to make museums more accessible to people of all economic backgrounds, but even so, I’ve got to admit that I still feel self-conscious when I roll up to a museum with the intent of only contributing my pocket change. Here’s what I tell myself before I reach the counter:

This is not a big deal. You’re just going to walk up to the counter and ask for one general admission ticket, and when the cashier asks for payment, you just hand them the dollar bill. Nothing bad is going to happen. The cashier is not going to bang a gong and expose you as a cheapskate. You’re not the first person they’ve seen do this, so they aren’t going to judge you. And if for some reason they do judge you, f*** ‘em; you’re not here to gain their approval. You’re here to experience the museum just like everyone else.

There’s really no point in feeling embarrassed. If the museum didn’t want you to pay-what-you-wish, it wouldn’t have put this policy in place. If this museum is generous enough to want to share its exhibits with everyone regardless of what they can pay, it would be foolish of you to not take advantage of the offer.

At least you are paying a full dollar. It’s an amount that’s token without being disrespectful. Imagine striding up to the counter and slapping down a penny. That would be gutsy, but that’s not nearly enough to keep the lights on in this place.

But on second thought … how much would my measly dollar do? That wouldn’t even cover the price of a pen from the gift shop. Maybe I should pay the full price…. But the last time I checked, I don’t have a full-price bank account….

Fine. I’ll give them /two/ dollars. Doesn’t make me look too cheap, but doesn’t hurt my wallet either. 


Do you ever get nervous before you pay what you wish at a museum or for an activity? Comment below what you tell yourself to get over it.


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