Harvard Art Museums Now Offer Free Admission To All Visitors

The Harvard Art Museums has announced a new free admission policy, which administrators have hailed as a “significant expansion” of public access to its collections, exhibitions, and research in a press release on Friday. The policy will remain in place permanently.

“Art is for everyone, and the Harvard Art Museums will now be free to all visitors,” university president Lawrence S. Bacow said in a statement. “This initiative ensures that every visitor to our campus will now have the opportunity to view and engage with the phenomenal collections in our care at the Harvard Art Museums.”

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Most university-affiliated museums are free for all visitors, making Harvard Art Museums—until now—an outlier in that respect. According to a statement from Bacow’s office, it took several years for the university to secure enough funds to ensure the expensive upkeep of the collection, as well as the salaries of its staff. The endowment was finally promised thanks to a contribution from the Estate of David Rockefeller.

The museums, which underwent a major revamp around 2015, are important hubs for research and conservation, and display objects from the Harvard’s collection that spans Ancient Greece to Postwar America. Among the collection standouts are a series of Mark Rothko murals commissioned by Harvard in the 1960s, materials from Bruce Nauman’s studio, and a prodigious group of drawings by Netherlandish, Dutch, and Flemish Masters.

“We are seeing that lowering that barrier of admission has made a difference [in reaching the Greater Boston community],” Harvard Art Museums Director Martha Tedeschi told WBUR. “And we’re looking forward to just eliminating that completely so that our local audience increasingly begins to just feel this is a place for them,” she continued. “We’ve been practicing this now for about a year and a half, and we know how it changes us, so we’re excited.”

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