INDIANAPOLIS (May 13, 2015) - New changes are now in effect at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. After years of free admission visitors now have to pay $18 to get in. Members can still visit as often as they'd like after paying a yearly fee.
However, some neighbors argue the museum is becoming a fortress and excluding the community with changes to public entrance points that have been open for decades.
CEO Dr. Charles Venable held a town hall meeting to hear member frustrations.
One member after another took the mic and delivered a passionate message stating they felt excluded from the decision making process and never had the chance to offer input.
Members are mostly frustrated with IMA leaders after several entrances were closed as a way to guide everyone to one entrance. Closing the 42nd Street pedestrian entrance drew the most criticism--now neighborhood bikers or runners have to use Michigan and 38th streets to access the grounds through the main gate and welcome center.
"If you're not going to open the 42nd Street pedestrian bridge then you need to do a crosswalk much like the city did at 54th and the Monon trail. Protect pedestrians, protect the bikes," said longtime member Margaret Drew.
Venable says the new plan reflects where the museum is headed.
"So that we can move forward with the idea of moving the museum to another level of public garden which is a botanical garden which has people to come through one visitor's center which is the main museum building," said Venable.
But many people say closing pedestrian entrances is cutting the museum off from the community.
"I just feel like this is putting a barrier between the common man and the art museum. I don't want it to be a fortress. I want it to be accessible to everyone," said Nancy Stone.
The board acknowledges change is hard but using the main entrance will help them to keep track of visitors and greet them when they enter.
"It's really a matter of retraining oneself to come in through the visitor center of the museum entrance and enter the gardens and come out the same way," said Venable.
Other changes include making the grounds more pedestrian friendly. Visitors can no longer use their cars to get to the Madeline F. Elder Greenhouse and Shop. Vehicle and bike traffic has also been restricted on the road that leads to the Lilly House. The board says this was a public safety concern.
During the town hall board members acknowledged they could have done a better job of communicating the April changes with the members and including them in the process along the way.