All the museums I visited during my two-week vacation in New York were for free or offered a “Pay What You Wish” option (one, two, three dollars…): the Met, the Guggenheim, Brooklyn’s, Studio Museum in Harlem, New Museum and the International Center of Photography, MoMA PS1 and the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, Natural History Museum… Although I could have asked for a discount, I gladly paid the reasonable five dollars to enter the small and gratifying Drawing Center.
The only museum I couldn’t visit on a free day (Fridays from 4 to 8 pm.) was the unmissable Museum of Modern Art. I decided to go there on a Tuesday afternoon during a snowstorm, when almost everything else remained closed, and obviously many people reasoned alike: anyone could tell from the numerous attendance.
As I waited in line, I noticed the sign with the admission fees: Adults $25. No doubt MoMA’s collection is worth it, but it looked a little pricey for a lowly South-American worker, and without mentioning the fact that many works of art I had seen so far belonged to a few families and the richest foundations in NY and the world, who, by means of this prestigious form of “philanthropy” (sharing “their” art) deduct taxes, launder their public image and tastefully flaunt their wealth, so that while we manage to redistribute their fortunes (without killing them, if possible) it would be fairer if all the museums were free.
The thing is that if I meant to get in, I would have to buy my ticket, and I was ready for that. But I re-read the sign and it didn’t seem fair. Seniors paid $18 and Students $14 (with ID). And that gave me an idea: I resolved to rip out a sheet from my notepad and make a self-taught student ID card myself, in block letters and as tidy as possible (but giving a wink).
When I reached the admission desk and the employee looked at me, I simply said “Student” and handed over my card. The dark-haired man frowned and said he didn’t believe that would work in his country. I replied that it in mine there was a possibility. His fellow co-worker, a black man next to him, lent an ear, and when he read my ID card, he couldn’t keep from laughing: “I’ve never seen something like this. Sure it’s a good university. We should give him a student one,” he said. And the first one smiled and agreed.
I was glad that my invention worked: a humble triumph. With the money I had saved I bought something for dinner.