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Manet, Monet, Money

The Museum of Fine Arts tries to draw in the crowds with a "Season of Impressionism"

So perhaps our skepticism should be shelved; it turns out that the first two installments of the "Season of Impressionism" are not just pandering to the crowd. But this doesn't mean the MFAH isn't trying to make a few bucks. Both impressionism shows are ticketed, which means that an adult who is not a museum member will need to shell out $17 to see them (general admission included). This makes taking out-of-town guests to see the shows over the holidays an expensive proposition.

Duncan Phillips deliberately paid a record price for Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party in 1923.
The Phillips Collection
Duncan Phillips deliberately paid a record price for Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party in 1923.
Duncan Phillips deliberately paid a record price for Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party in 1923.
The Phillips Collection
Duncan Phillips deliberately paid a record price for Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party in 1923.

With the collapse of Enron, the irrelevancy of Arthur Andersen, Dynegy's difficulties, and the generally uncertain times, every cultural institution in Houston is hurting right now. But while the insurance costs alone on traveling exhibits like these are enormous, both of these shows have corporate and nonprofit underwriters. The MFAH may be shooting itself in the foot with these high ticketing policies. (After paying $17 each this time, will people come back for the next exhibit?) The museum is also in danger of confounding its role as cultural conservator with that of entertainment impresario. And that's a no-win for everyone.

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