Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is now free and open to the public — during their regular operating hours, that is. In a unanimous vote, the museum’s 20-member board of directors elected to permanently drop the long-standing $3 admission fee. The new policy offers a chance to increase visitor exposure and is also a means of celebrating the museum’s 20th year in operation and the former school’s would-be 80th anniversary.
“As an institution that adds to and thrives within Asheville’s amazing cultural offerings, we thought that a proper celebration of our 20 years as a museum and the 80 year anniversary of the opening of Black Mountain College would include free admission to our unique exhibits,” said Board Chair Dr. Brian Butler in a press release issued Sunday afternoon. “We think of this as both a thank you to our community and as a gentle invite to anyone who has not already stopped in to learn about our exhibitions and events.”
The move grants all visitors free access to ongoing exhibitions in the museum’s Broadway Street gallery space. Some special events, such as lectures, film screening and poetry readings, among other programs, may still have one-time ticket fees. As for the financial difference, the board’s goal, according to Alice Sebrell, BMCM+AC’s program director, is to balance out potential loss in admission revenues with further grant writing, fundraising and in-kind donations from increased attendance.
“We’ve always been free to members and always free on every single Wednesday of the month,” Sebrell told Xpress. By offering free admission the museum can reach a larger audience, particularly in the arts-based tourism sector. “It’s a positive move towards total inclusion,” she says.
“In this town, with so many people working on low wages, especially in the artists community, it’s nice to offer this,” Sebrell says. We’ve always kept that on the forefront of our minds.” And now, she says, “with free consciouses, we can welcome everyone in through our doors.”
Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is located at 56 Broadway Street in downtown Asheville. The gallery is open to the public from 12 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The current exhibition, Cynthia Homire: Vision Quest, which features ceramic works, drawings and poems by the New Mexico-based artist and former BMC student, is on view through May 17.