The Dallas Museum of Art announced yesterday that it will return to free general admission in January 2013 and launch an unusual new free-membership plan. The new program, DMA Friends & Partners, approaches membership as a means of engaging visitors, emphasizing participation over the typical cash-n-carry membership model common among museums.
Here’s how it works: beginning on January 21, there will be two kinds of members: the DMA Friends program gives free membership to anyone who wishes to join; DMA Friends will receive a card allowing them to track their engagement with the Museum, both on-site and online. As members visit exhibitions, attend programs, share their experiences online, and participate in other local arts events, they will earn credit for their participation that they can convert into a variety of rewards. Each DMA Friend will be able to choose which rewards best reflect his or her interests. Discounts, access to special programs, free tickets, and other opportunities are among the many ways the DMA hopes to say thank you to visitors who enrich the experience of the Museum by their participation.
The DMA Partners program, with contributions of at least $100 per year, will provide Partners with “benefits commensurate with their giving,” in the old-fashioned way. DMA Partners can support the Museum via one of eleven different giving levels, ranging from $100 to $25,000, and the resulting benefits (undisclosed in the press release) reflect donor research conducted by the DMA in 2009 and 2010.
The last time the DMA had free admission was 2001. “The focus of the DMA’s visitor philosophy is to increase access and participation. The value of growing a passionate and involved constituency exceeds that of the return on general admissions, and our goal is to expand and diversify our audiences, thereby enhancing our ability to serve as a significant and vital local resource,” said Director Maxwell Anderson.