Aspen Art Museum debuts free admission

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Heading to the Aspen Art Museum sometime in the next decade? Don’t forget to leave your wallet at home.

Thanks to a gift from John and Amy Phelan ” art collectors, part-time Aspenites, and members of the museum’s National Council ” admission to the museum will be free for the next 10 years. A celebration ” open to the public and, of course, free ” of the gift is set for Thursday and will feature live music by local band Waste Deep.

Admission was hardly a major expense to begin with, just $5 for adults. But with contemporary art, the fewer obstacles to access, the better.

“It’s sort of an uphill climb to demystify it, to make people feel welcome,” said Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, director and chief curator of the museum. “The reduction of any barriers, intellectual or monetary, is a good thing. People can come check it out, and if they don’t like it, they won’t be out anything.”

Eliminating the admission fee has been a goal of Zuckerman Jacobson’s since she began working at the museum, in 2005. It is part of a broader determination to make contemporary art more accessible. Under Zuckerman Jacobson’s direction, the museum has instituted such programs as Exhibition in a Box, which brought scale-models of actual museum exhibitions to third-grade classrooms in Pitkin County; Make Your Own Lift Ticket, a featured activity at the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Kids Treehouse Adventure Center in Snowmass Village; biweekly art classes at the Pitkin County Jail; and cell phone audio guides to the museum’s exhibits. Zuckerman Jacobson also hosts the “Art Matters” program on GrassRoots TV.