Groupon Is Trying to Give You a Great Deal on a Free Museum

There is no admission fee to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That said we still can't explain why the museum, which possesses a $2.8 billion endowment, decided to put up a Groupon deal on an admission fee which does not exist. 

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art Museum in New York City, a massive cultural institution that possesses a $2.8 billion endowment, is offering a Groupon deal on their admission fee, with one catch: There is no admission fee to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Met, one the largest and most prestigious art museums in the world (by floo), works on a "suggested donation" basis. That "suggested" amount is $25, though you can, if you want, give the nice admissions people a penny, or a quarter, or nothing at all. That's what makes the museum's Groupon seem a little deceptive; why is the museum offering a discount on a fee that doesn't exist?

This isn't the first time the issue has come up, either. The museum is actually in the middle of two lawsuits regarding its "suggested admission" policy. Gothamist explains that the lawsuits argue that the taxpayer funded museum is defrauding people (mostly tourists) by tricking them into paying fees that they don't need to. In the past, museum officials have defended those fees by saying that each full visit by a patron costs the institution over $40 (though how they came to that number is still unexplained.)

The Groupon deal offers an "$18 for Admission for One to The Metropolitan Museum of Art" and over 1,000 people have already purchased the coupon. It's also riddled with asterisks, like this one that mentions the suggested donation that comes after the purchase button:

** The $25 admission fee is the full recommended amount for adults according to the Museum's website. Admission is $17 for seniors ages 65 and up and $12 for students. Children under 12 are free with an adult. "

What the museum says those people are really getting with this "deal" is the opportunity to bypass a line. "The reason there are coupon deals and Groupon deals is there is a large body of people that would like, if they can, bypass the lines," Harold Holzer, the museum’s vice president for public affairs, told The Daily News. "This gives people the opportunity to simply flash these tickets and pass through," he added. For $18. We're not entirely sure we'd buy that, or this deal.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.