The Dallas Museum of Art has just announced that beginning January 21, 2013 the museum will do away with general admission fees and become free to the public.
It's a bold move and it speaks to Eugene McDermott Director Maxwell Anderson's longstanding platform of public inclusion and making art available to a greater audience. To take it further, he's announcing a new program called DMA Friends, where those attending events and exhibitions will interact in an online forum, allowing them to earn credit, exchangeable for a variety of rewards. See also: Maxwell Anderson: The Innovator
Under this new model, current Members will become Partners, and will continue to enjoy free parking and admission but will also be eligible for a variety of yet-to-be-named awards.
Here's the full press release:
Dallas Museum of Art to Offer Free Membership And a Return to Free General Admission Starting January 2013
DMA Membership and Admissions Model Sets New Standard for Visitor Engagement And Patronage, Encouraging Museum Participation and Community Building at Every Level
Dallas, TX, November 27, 2012―The Dallas Museum of Art announced today a return to free general admission and the launch of an innovative new membership model available to the public for free.
The new program, DMA Friends & Partners, approaches membership as a program of engagement that is intended to build long-term relationships with visitors and to emphasize participation over the transaction-based membership model that has become common practice among museums. Beginning on January 21, 2013, the program will enhance the DMA's role as the region's largest municipal museum and a vital community asset that rewards cultural participation in novel ways and provides meaningful experiences with art to visitors free of charge.
DMA Friends & Partners will enable the Dallas Museum of Art to strengthen existing relationships with constituents as well as forge new ones, expand audiences throughout greater Dallas, and build a robust global online community. In addition to providing free general admission for all visitors, the Museum will offer two membership tracks that further visitor engagement:
· The DMA Friends program will provide free membership to anyone who wishes to join and will include opportunities for increased access to Museum programs and staff, incentivizing participation through recognition and à la carte rewards; and
· The DMA Partners program will seek the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations desiring to be a part of the Museum's efforts to deliver access to its extensive collection and diverse public programs. While DMA Partners will receive benefits commensurate with their giving, their philanthropic involvement with the DMA enables the Museum to provide free admission and membership to the community at large. DMA Partners can contribute at a variety of levels, starting at $100 per year.
In preparation for the launch of the new program, Museum leadership is working with existing members to ensure that the transition from the previous system is seamless and provides them with the appropriate benefits.
"Visitors literally bring life to the Dallas Museum of Art. Their participation in our galleries, exhibitions, education initiatives, and public programs activates the DMA and is the cornerstone of a vibrant cultural community," said Maxwell L. Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. "Through a return to free general admission and the new Friends & Partners program, we can open the doors of the Museum and show appreciation to our visitors for the many ways their participation matters to the DMA. We believe that by increasing access to the Museum and by finding new ways to say 'thank you,' we can fundamentally change the role museums play in a global society."
The implementation of the new admissions and membership program in January will be supported and enhanced by a comprehensive software system at the DMA that will encourage visitor interaction with the Museum, whether they are on-site or online. The opt-in system will track participation, allowing visitors to chart their own activities and enable the DMA to better understand patterns of visitor engagement and the long-term success of Museum programs.
"New technologies and online participation are already an integral part of many visitors' daily lives," said Rob Stein, the DMA's Deputy Director, who, along with Anderson, is spearheading technology initiatives at the Museum. "As part of our new approach to visitor engagement, we want to provide our audiences with enhanced ways to feel connected to the Museum and to share their opinions with us and each other. In doing so, we hope to build a virtual community that is as strong as our physical one. The DMA Friends program uses technology to demonstrate to our visitors that the DMA recognizes the value they bring to the Museum when they engage deeply in sharing their creativity and ideas with us."
In addition to unveiling the software behind the DMA Friends program, the DMA today is also launching the first phase of its redesigned website, www.dma.org. Content and functionality will continue to be expanded through fall 2013 and beyond. The system and web redesign are part of a renewed effort by the DMA to leverage technology and increase the Museum's ability to serve communities as a significant cultural resource.
The DMA Friends Program
Free and open to anyone who visits the Museum and wishes to join, the DMA Friends program seeks to expand and deepen visitor connections to the institution. The program encourages and recognizes visitor participation as an essential ingredient of the museum experience. Through this groundbreaking new approach, the DMA seeks to encourage a vibrant and connected community as part of the Museum, and to strengthen the larger cultural community in Dallas as well.
At the time of enrollment, new DMA Friends will receive a card allowing them to track their engagement with the Museum, both on-site and online. As members visit exhibitions, attend programs, share their experiences online, and participate in other local arts events, they will earn credit for their participation that they can convert into a variety of rewards. Each DMA Friend will be able to choose which rewards best reflect his or her interests. Discounts, access to special programs, free tickets, and other opportunities are among the many ways the DMA hopes to say thank you to visitors who enrich the experience of the Museum by their participation.
Participants in the DMA Friends program will be able to manage their engagement with the Museum through kiosks located along the Museum's Concourse, a new smartphone app launching in 2013, and a web portal housed on the Museum's website. Over time, the activity of DMA Friends will be incorporated into a "living" canvas of participation that will be displayed on monitors throughout the Museum, allowing participants to visually recognize their history of engagement with the DMA and their role in this vibrant community.
The DMA Partners Program
The DMA Partners program is focused on creating personalized levels of engagement with patrons along the giving spectrum by supporting their individual interests. DMA Partners can support the Museum via one of eleven different giving levels, ranging from $100 to $25,000. These levels were selected after careful review of philanthropic interests and motivations, and the resulting benefits are responsive to donor research conducted by the DMA in 2009 and 2010. In addition to retaining some of the most preferred benefits, the program will add new dimensions of access and experience―some of which will overlap with awards for especially engaged DMA Friends to encourage dialogue between the two groups.
Return to Free Admission
The DMA's return to free admission underscores its belief that as a public institution, the Museum should provide access to anyone interested in experiencing its collection and exhibitions and participating in its diverse range of programming. The Museum maintained a free general admissions policy until 2001, and this reinstatement of this policy represents recognition of the role that philanthropic support plays in enabling the Museum to welcome the public for free. The DMA will continue to charge a fee for special exhibitions and some events to cover the additional costs of making these experiences possible.
"The focus of the DMA's visitor philosophy is to increase access and participation. The value of growing a passionate and involved constituency exceeds that of the return on general admissions, and our goal is to expand and diversify our audiences, thereby enhancing our ability to serve as a significant and vital local resource," said Anderson.
About the Dallas Museum of Art
Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than 22,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, the Museum welcomes more than half a million visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary events, and dramatic and dance presentations.
The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors, the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.