Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal
It’s soon going to cost more to visit many of the museums and historic sites in the Land of Enchantment.
All state-run museums, including the Natural History Museum, the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the Museum of New Mexico, plan to increase admission, beginning July 1. And the free Sundays for New Mexico residents may be cut to one Sunday a month.
The changes are due to the Department of Cultural Affairs’ $2 million budget cut for the next fiscal year. The department oversees eight museums and several Historic Sites.
The department also plans to increase prices at its historic sites, lay off 11 employees and reduce the number of days some of its sites are open.
The four Santa Fe museums – the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Museum of International Folk Art, the Museum of New Mexico and the Palace of the Governors – currently charge $9 for non-residents and $6 for New Mexico residents.
The recommended increase adds $3 for the non-resident, which pushes the admission to $12. New Mexico residents will see an increase of $1, bringing the price to $7. The Cultural Affairs Department must now sign off on the proposal.
According to the data, non-residents account for approximately 75 percent of total visitation to the Santa Fe museums.
The Cultural Affairs Department has already approved the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Board of Directors’ plan to increase general admission prices for non-New Mexico residents from $3 to $6, and for New Mexico residents to $5. It is still free for children under 16 and on the first Sunday of every month.
“This is still on the low end compared to other museums’ proposals,” said NHCC executive director Rebecca Avitia.
Department of Cultural Affairs Secretary Veronica Gonzales said the museums are all considering increases.
And, “We are looking at more days of closure,” Gonzales said. “This isn’t part of the budget cuts. This is an effort to help alleviate the stress on the staff. Being open seven days a week is a lot to handle with the little resources that we have.”
Currently, the Santa Fe museums are closed on Mondays, except in the summer. The proposal is to keep them closed on Mondays year round.
The Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, which sees nearly 250,000 visitors a year, more than any other museum, is also working on a planned admission increase, though it hasn’t been taken to the museum’s board.
Currently, it charges $7 for adults 13-59, while the Dynatheater is $10 and the Planetarium is $7.
The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces and the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo are also planning admission increases, but they also have not been taken to the boards.
As for New Mexico’s Historic Sites – Jemez, Fort Seldon, Coronado, Camino Real, Bosque Redondo at Fort Sumner, Fort Stanton and El Camino Real Trail all charge $3 and Lincoln charges $5. The recommendation is a $2 increase, which pushes Lincoln to $7 and the rest to $5.
The Bosque Redondo price hike won’t take effect until the core renovation is completed, and the Taylor-Mesilla Historic Site will not charge admission at this time.
Operating hours will also be affected.
The proposal for historic sites Lincoln and Fort Stanton calls for them to be open six days a week instead of seven. Coronado would continue to be closed one day a week, and the other sties would have two-day closures, with the days still to be determined.
The museum directors also recommended reducing New Mexico residents’ free days. Admission would be free the first Sunday of the month, rather than every Sunday.
But families can still get great deals through the popular “free family” pass program.
The DCA plans to expand the tickets program through the state public libraries.
The residents can borrow the pass at any library in addition. They can check out a pass for up to one week, which gives the permit-holder free admission for up to six people at any of the Department of Cultural Affairs’ museums and historic sites.
“This program is very successful,” Gonzales said. “There’s a waiting list for the passes, and we’re going to expand on that.”