The Corcoran Gallery of Art has decided to close every Monday and raise ticket prices to improve its financial picture.
Museum administrators say they will announce today that, beginning Friday, the museum will be open five days a week instead of six and will charge $8 instead of $6.75.
The changes come weeks after an upheaval at the museum, which has been struggling with deficits for years. Fundraising problems caused the gallery to cancel an ambitious project to build a new wing, designed by the internationally known architect Frank Gehry. The project excited city leaders and museum officials, but not the necessary donors. The building campaign was stalled at $95 million, including a $40 million pledge from the city. The estimated building costs rose from $60 million to $200 million.
The museum's director, David Levy, resigned as part of the shakeup. And the board announced that it was developing a series of strategic plans for the 136-year-old institution. Stopping an expensive project did not solve the problem of escalating deficits. The board met yesterday and announced the shortage for fiscal 2005 was $1.3 million.
The decision to close on Mondays will save $30,000 for fiscal 2006, said Margaret Bergen, the museum's chief communications officer. "Looking at all the different pieces of our operations, the cafe had always been closed on Mondays. Mondays were not a strong museum visitor day. This is part of the budget tightening exercises," Bergen said.
The Corcoran has been closed on Tuesdays for many years and the cafe's hours will follow the museum's new schedule.
Bergen said the museum has not projected how much additional money the ticket price increase will produce.
Though most of Washington's museums are free, many with entrance fees thrive. The Phillips Collection charges $8 for adult admission to special exhibitions, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts also charges $8 for adults. The International Spy Museum charges teens and adults $14 with a $5 surcharge for special shows. Several of the museums offer discounts to seniors.
"We looked at our peer, independent museums," Bergen said.
The Corcoran also plans to have a discount for military personnel and offer a summer bargain -- two visitors can get in for $8 in July and August.
In keeping with custom, the Corcoran will be open next Monday for the Fourth of July. It will be closed on Mondays beginning July 11.