Evansville Museum adding fee with expansion

By The Associated Press

EVANSVILLE — Visitors to the Evansville Museum will face paying a general admission fee for the first time after its new planetarium and atrium entrance opens in February.

The decision comes as work nears completion on the museum’s $14 million renovation and expansion project, with a grand opening event being planned for Feb. 7.

The museum board had been discussing since 2009 whether to start charging admission for more than its planetarium, transportation exhibit and some special shows, museum interim director Mary Bower said. The expansion is increasing the museum’s annual budget by about 25 percent to $1.5 million.

“With the renovated and expanded building, we felt that this was the time to implement a nominal admission charge,” Bower told the Evansville Courier & Press.

The new admission fees will be $7 for adults, $5 for youths 4 and older. Tickets for the new planetarium will be $5 for adults and youths. A monthly Free Friday is being planned.

Bower expects the free admission and discounted planetarium prices available for those who buy museum memberships will boost those sales. Annual memberships have dropped to fewer than 1,100 during construction, and attendance has fallen as well, during that period.

With all the scaffolding up and former entrances boarded over, “people may have mistakenly thought we were not open all the time,” she said.

The renovation project also is giving the museum along the city’s riverfront additional space and some fresh exhibitions.

“We’re hoping the excitement with the new immersive theater will really bring people back to see what’s happening at the Evansville Museum and all the changes and new exhibitions and galleries,” Bower said.

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