The 15 Most expensive museums in the world
Unlike most other travel costs, museum prices are particularly hard to predict until you’ve actually done the research. Many governments and private foundations continue to subsidize museums as a way to make them accessible to all, but that doesn’t happen everywhere, of course.
So here at Price of Travel we’re all about trying to help people calculate their budgets in all the major destinations around the world, and in some cases this can be a tool to actually pick your next holiday. We’ve compared taxi prices around the world, and public transportation prices around the world, with mostly predictable results. This one is a bit different.
For this list we’ve researched and recently confirmed prices at all of the most famous art museums in the world, plus a few less-famous ones in very expensive cities. So the definition we used is an “art museum” where the main feature is the art rather than the building itself. If we were to widen the definition you’d notice that the priciest museums in the world are mostly wax museums, so we are ignoring those here.
The 15 most expensive museums in the world
Normal adult admission price, currency converted as of 13-September, 2011
1 – US$28.41 – Museum Buehrle, Zurich (25 SFr)
2 – US$25.00 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City (suggested admission)
3 – US$22.50 – Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver (C$22.50)
4 – US$22.00 – Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (C$22.00)
5 – US$20.55 – Vatican Museum, Rome (€15.00)
6 – US$20.55 – Hermitage Museum, Amsterdam (€15.00)
7 – US$20.45 – Kunsthaus, Zurich (18 SFr)
8 – US$20.00 – Museum of Modern Art, New York City
9 – US$19.18 – Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (€14.00)
10 – US$18.00 – Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City
11 – US$18.00 – Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City
12 – US$18.00 – Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
13 – US$18.00 – Frick Collection, New York City
14 – US$17.12 – Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (€12.50)
15 – US$16.44 – Centre Pompidou, Paris (€12.00)
5 very famous museums that are cheaper
US$13.70 – Louvre, Paris (€10.00)
US$13.70 – Prado Museum, Madrid (€10.00)
US$13.22 – Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (400 rubles)
US$12.41 – Uffizi Gallery, Florence (€9.10)
US$10.91 – Musee d’Orsay, Paris (€8.00)
4 very famous museums that are totally free
Free – British Museum, London
Free – Tate Modern, London
Free – J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles
Free – National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Notes and conclusions
The US Dollar has strengthened recently (perhaps temporarily) and that pushed down prices at all museums located elsewhere. Only a week or two ago many of these would have been a dollar or two higher in USDs.
It’s a bit surprising to see a pair of Canadian museums charging so much, as they otherwise seem like a country that would subsidize the hell out of them. Likewise with Swizterland, although the Buehrle appears to be totally private, and admission includes a tour.
London and Washington DC are two cities that are loaded with free (taxpayer supported, really) museums, which helps take the bite out of a visit since both are also extraordinarily expensive in nearly every other way.
Many of the above museums are famous for very long admission queues, like the Vatican Museum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Uffizi Gallery, and the Louvre, so they could clearly charge more and probably bring in a lot more revenue. It’s nice that they don’t, unless you would prefer to pay more for a shorter wait. In some cases you can book online and skip the queue, which is already a major trend at popular non-museum attractions.
You’ll notice that all of these museums are in Europe and North America. The only other places with overall prices that compare are Australia, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates, all of which have cheaper or free museums.