Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Masterworks, $1

Reflecting again on my recent Met excursion, I recall another telling moment which occurred upon entry.

As the first of the party to arrive I stepped onto one of the lines to purchase our admission pins. It was a slightly misshapen line, actually, and while the asymmetry first irked me, my position to the right of those ahead me proved useful, for I spied their donations. From these two people who each purchased two pins the museum made a whopping $4. Despite that I handed the teller my own donation whilst beaming with pride, I was aghast.

Consider, though, that you'll find no one with more qualms about state-funded anything than me. Too, the Met has been fairly lambasted of late for being less than forthcoming about the voluntary nature of the contributions. I don't here see those as the issues though, since either way, I want the museum to have funds to operate. Now I don't know an awful lot about its finances and whether it is efficiently run and who of its employees makes what salary. I would prefer to  know soI could give a more precise donation, be it more or less, but the suggested donation is not so implausible as to concern me.

I suppose one could take a principled stand and pay a paltry sum if the museum were known to be corrupt or grossly mismanaged, but to my understanding, the Met is neither, and I hope it continues to exist. Too, I would prefer it to run without tax dollars, therefore I see my contribution as more, not less, important.

Still more to my point, though, I wonder precisely what thought goes through the mind of an individual with a Coach handbag around her shoulder and an iPhone in one hand as she hands the teller at the Metropolitan Museum of Art a $1 bill. Was it for the Tiepolo? The Monet? Was everything she saw worth precisely that to her, or did she determine that what she paid to the Met in taxes was exactly the proper amount? Perhaps she knows what the museum needs to run? Who can say, but I find it hard to believe that your average couture-wearing gadget-toting bourgeois can't spare a little more.

For my part, even if I had some objection to its funding or existence, I would find it hard to walk amidst the masterworks had I made such an infinitesimal contribution to their preservation.

1 comment:

  1. More scrupulous by far than me! I rarely paid more than a couple of dollars, but you've pricked my conscience!