Last week, the Anchorage Museum announced that the price of admission would be based on a visitor’s racial self-identification, with visitors of some races paying up to $25 more to visit the public institution. Following an outpouring of support, the Museum has announced an expansion of the policy, with admissions prices now determined by a visitor’s gender, sexual orientation, religion, and national origin.
“Look, I’m a filthy little colonist living on unceded stolen lands,” Anchorage Museum Director Julie Decker told the Landmine. “And of course I should give those lands back right now. I should. I know I should. But, you know, at the moment that’s just not a great option for me so I thought to myself, ‘Julie,’ I thought, ‘let’s create a progressive system of racial, sexual, religious, and national-origin discrimination in admissions prices at the Museum!’”
The new system requires Museum guests to declare extensive demographic data before being quoted a price for admission to the institution. Straight visitors, for example, will be required to pay $3 more than gay visitors and $4 more than bisexual visitors, but $1 less than asexual visitors.
“There’s a lot of work by gay artists here,” said Decker, “so naturally we think gay visitors need to get discounted admissions to see that work. To do otherwise would be a betrayal of the Museum’s mission and values.”
Decker said that though the policy requires self-identification, she believes most visitors will be honest. “If you say you’re gay, we’ll take you at your word,” she said. “But if you just, like, fooled around with another girl at a frat party in 2011, well, I don’t think that counts. Right? You should really be pretty committed if you want that discount. Like, be on Grindr or something, you know?”
Decker told the Landmine that the policy was part of the Museum’s broader efforts to promote equity. “We truly believe that people should be free from discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and national origin. But what we realized is that what’s important is not complying with the letter of that goal, but with the spirit of the goal. And to do that we have to rigorously discriminate based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and national origin.”
Decker said that the details of the policy had been a topic of lively discussion and debate among Museum staff for months. “White Hispanics really gave us a lot of trouble,” she said, “Like, should they pay an extra $7 or get a $3.50 discount? It’s so confusing! We also had to scrap a plan to base admissions price on a color chart of skin tones, mostly because the lighting in our lobby made it kind of hard to judge Asians. At one point we were like ‘maybe we should just give up and charge everyone the same amount for admission.’ We all had a good laugh at that.”