The Bellas Artes Museum could no longer be completly free, something that has sparked heavy discussions among its public.

My mom used to say “If it’s too good to be true, then it probably isn’t”, and it seems she was right. It looks as though the time of all good things being wild and free is seeing it’s dawn (at least in the ‘all‘ side), since public museums in Buenos Aires could have the potential to charge an entrance fee in the future *sad face emoji*.

With more than 600,000 visitors a year at the major Bellas Artes museum, plans to start charging seem pretty lucrative. With say, an entrance fee of AR $120 multiplied by an average number of yearly visitors, revenue of AR $72,000,000 could be generated each year, which is by no means a small amount. If we’re to be positive, this could mean a lot more money to be invested in arts and culture around the city, but the other side to this story is that it could also mean a more restricted access to art. Not so good.

Pretty amazing to see art like Miró's for free. Photo via Bellas Artes
Pretty amazing to see art like Miró’s for free. (Photo via Bellas Artes)

 

As one of the best things about Buenos Aires being the free public cultural spaces, you can imagine that a whole lot of discussion and disagreement has unsurprisingly been stirred up. Not many cities worldwide are able to say that all of their national museums are free to every visitor of any nationality, and this is something that Buenos Aires is very proud of. (If you ask me, ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t try to fix it,’ but hey, what do I know.)

Compromises are being discussed with the possibility of having free access to the permanent collections while being charged for entry to the temporary exhibitions, which at least strikes some sort of a balance. (But please don’t actually follow through – free museums, we love you). Speaking to Clarín, Director of Bellas Artes museum Andrés Duprat said that although he still supports the tradition of free, accessible museums for all, he wouldn’t be opposed to the possibility of setting up an option to contribute for those who wanted to do so (and were able to afford it). On the other side, Minister of Culture Pablo Avelluto argued that public museums are already paid for by taxes paid by the public, so charging an entrance fee would be like charging the public twice. Well, I mean, he has a point.

What Bellas Artes could look like if they charge an entrance fee - empty. Photo via Bellas Artes
What Bellas Artes could look like if they charge an entrance fee – empty. Photo via Bellas Artes

 

It goes without saying though that entrance fees will restrict access for many, especially for those who are already initially not so keen in entering any type of art museum at all. And as far as those who actually love strolling through the peaceful artsy hallways goes… Come on, sometimes we all need a quick bit of escapism from daily life, and a stroll through Miró or Rodin can be just the ticket. Please don’t charge us to escape real life!

 

Just a little under a year ago, all public museums were made free by the current administration, so suggested changes come as a shock since they’re a complete 180-degree switch on what had previously been agreed. However, for this to actually happen a whole lot of people will have to be pleased, with a whole lot of agreements and compromises made, so no need to worry about it just yet: changes to entrance fees, if they actually happen, should be a long way off in the future, so it’s not all bad news then *breathes a sigh of relief*.

If anything, this gives us even more of an incentive to check out all the free public museums we’ve been meaning to for a while. Miró at the Museo de Bellas Artes or Ai Weiwei at the Proa Foundation? Regardless of the choice, it’s a date.