On the Daily: Art free of cost at UMMA

Monday, January 30, 2017 - 2:28pm

The University of Michigan Museum of Art is making memberships free, according to an announcement made early Monday.

The museum previously required a minimum $50 donation — $15 for UM students — for memberships, but continued to have free admission.

Members receive a 20 percent discount at the UMMA store, invitations to upcoming events and exhibitions, a subscription to the UMMA magazine, a calendar and reciprocal admission to over 50 participating museums. Now, UMMA members who contribute $100 or more will receive reciprocal admissions to 853 North American museums and 12 Michigan museums.

Instead of the $50 fee, UMMA encourages annual gifts to the museum to help it extend its philosophy of inclusion and accessibility. A new grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan — a philanthropic organization aimed at making positive change — has made the free membership possible. 

“UMMA hopes to upend the notion that to be a stakeholder in the Museum’s future, you have to be a major donor,” said Carrie Throm, UMMA deputy director of Development and External Relations in a release. “UMMA belongs to the citizens of Michigan, the University, and — now, truly — everyone.”

UMMA’s educational programs serve approximately 35,000 people annually, and the museum broke a record for hosting almost 250,000 visitors last year. Those who want to sign up for the free membership program can do so online or at UMMA’s store on site. The free memberships do not expire.

“UMMA is excited to offer free membership to everyone,” said UMMA Interim Director Kathryn Huss in the release. “Our goal is to promote the discovery, contemplation and enjoyment of art, and to be accessible to everyone. We welcome more people to join us in that mission.”