Building Museum to Charge Admission

Tuesday, Jun 14, 2011  |  Updated 12:56 PM EDT
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Say it ain't so, National Building Museum.

Blaming the country's economic woes, the museum has decided to begin charging an admission fee for the first time since it opened in 1985.

The private, nonprofit museum announced Tuesday it will begin charging $8 for adults and $5 for youth, students with IDs and seniors on June 27.

Museum members and children ages 2 and under will be free. Active-duty military personnel and their families can get in for free from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Executive Director Chase Rynd said the recession has been devastating for arts and culture groups and for the building industry that supports the museum.

“Around the world and in our backyards, the landscape for nonprofit organizations has shifted dramatically," Rynd said in a release. "Those who wait too long to realize this truth or dismiss it entirely are likely to become casualties of the era. Under no circumstances will we allow this to be the fate of the National Building Museum."

The museum instituted its first charge of $5 for the exhibit "Lego Architecture: Towering Ambition," which opened last July. It has drawn 130,000 visitors.

Many of Washington's other private museums also charge admission fees.

“We will certainly look for opportunities in the future to ensure that the admission fee does not serve as a barrier to those who cannot otherwise afford it," Rynd said in the release. "There is much to be proud of here and much to support. Now we need to turn to our audiences and ask for that support.”

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