Dallas Museum of Art Might Go Free Admission

I’d heard a rumor that the Dallas Museum of Art might switch to a free admission sometime this fall. You’d still pay for special exhibits, naturally, but the permanent collection would cost you nada. I asked Jill Bernstein, the DMA’s communications czar, about the rumor. Her response: “We are exploring the return to free general admission, and the ramifications of a possible transition are currently being reviewed. We anticipate finishing our analysis within the coming months.”

I’m trying to remember when it was last free. About eight years ago? Anyway, the move makes sense to me. A membership will still be the most cost-effective way to see traveling exhibits. People who buy memberships won’t buy fewer memberships just because general admission is now free. On the other hand, with free general admission, it stands to reason that a greater number of casual, curious guests will be drawn to the museum — and might be enticed to buy a membership.


  • allison

    Free admission sounds great, but parking was also $10 last time I was there. That can add up to a lot when you have to pay for each person in your group, assuming you’re a non-member. Would definitely make me think twice about visiting if I was a tourist with a car. As a resident, I’d get a membership just to skip paying for parking each time I visit.

  • Stells

    It would be great! I’d expect a lot more visitors to be there – especially in the Texas summer heat and parents with bored kids at home during the summer break. Paying for parking sucks, but that’s how it is in every downtown area and $10 per car is still cheaper than almost every other indoor activity for kids or tourists. And tourists will be more likely to spend $$ on paid exhibits (and gift shop items) if admission to teh permanent collection is free.

  • Yes the parking is essentially highway robbery. It is absolutely outrageous and I never park there. Museums SHOULD be free. When you think about a family of four wanting to expose their kids to art, it just is not going to happen with fees and parking at present rates. So you have to think , “Who are they serving?” ” Is it a service?” or is it simply, if you’ve got the money honey, we’ve got the time? The thing that galls me the most is when Nasher has FREE night and then the DMA wants you to pony up half admission that same night. The entire marketing purpose of a FREE night is to get exposure and hopefully gain members. I went right back to the Nasher and spent my admission on wine! MUCH more satisfying. The Nasher does it right on a regular basis. The DMA could learn a bit from their marketing strategy and the entire arts district needs to get on the same page when anyone has a FREE night.

  • milk&cookies

    wow! am happy to hear free admission
    might be returning
    yes to that!

  • PeterK

    I’m a member of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond even though admission is free. I have a membership + 1 meaning I can bring a guest. for special exhibits like the Picasso, Faberge and the current Maharaja one I get 2 free tickets, plus I get free parking. they also have special events for members only. well worth the cost of membership

  • You mean general admission wasn’t free? Oops…

    I blame the Kimbell. I grew up in Mansfield. I had a lot of friends in Fort Worth. And we’d always swing by the Kimbell to look at the free permanent collection. Then, maybe have a picnic in the field behind the museum. Over the years, I felt such a connection to that museum. I’ve given them more money and have been to more special exhibits there than any other museum. It’s probably because I was able to get so acquainting with the Kimbell through their free permanent collection, same with the Amon Carter. I was spoiled by the Fort Worth museums, which always seemed friendlier and more inviting. “Free” does that.

    And seriously, when I walked right past the greeters into the DMA’s permanent collection areas, someone should have stopped me.

  • Mike

    If parking is your problem, take the train. The walk is 5 minutes from St. Paul station. Otherwise become a member or pay the $10. I see lots of options there.

  • Edward

    Whenever someone complains about the high price of parking, you realize we definitely don’t live in a “world class city”.

  • Michael

    Sounds like a great idea. It may also make individuals more likely to purchase something from the gift area. So that would also add some revenue, even if it doesn’t make up for loss on admissions. Also it would get people into the Arts District in general, with the DMA as the “main entree” so to speak it could get more people to visit the other museums right by it.

  • marisa

    City of Dallas citizens should NEVER have been forced to pay to enter the museum unless it was a special exhibit. Our tax dollars are already paying. I dropped my membership in silent protest. The parking fee is too high as is the symphany fee etc. As always the tax payer is double taxed. Wake up non profits and performing arts the tax payer is beginning to take charge.

  • Gabe

    For those complaining about being tax payers and being “double taxed”:

    Look at the DMA’s annual report. The City’s contributions in 2010 represented about 2% of the museums revenue. The other 98% came from investments, memberships, admission (and yes, parking) fees, and gifts from donors. This doesn’t include gifts of Art from donors, just revenue.

    So being a city of Dallas Tax payer should entitle you to a 20 cent discount on the ten dollar admission. I will give you a quarter to stop complaining.

  • Bob

    Drive to the West Village/Cityplace area, park for free, and take the McKinney Avenue Trolley right to the DMA FOR FREE. The vintage cars have all acquired air conditioning, and the end of the line is right around the corner from the Museum’s door. If you have kids, it’s a treat for them to ride the trolley as well as see the museum. The trolleys run on a regular schedule about every 20 minutes or so, and there is usually plenty of street parking along the line, especially between the DART Cityplace Red Line/Blue Line station and the West Village. Plenty of food and beverage choices in the area, and it is a unique experience. And if you don’t like it, well, it IS free.