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Originally published March 13, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified March 14, 2007 at 8:48 AM

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EMP and SFM slash their ticket price

Experience Music Project and the Science Fiction Museum will cut admission ticket prices by nearly half as part of a new initiative aimed...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Experience Music Project and the Science Fiction Museum will cut admission ticket prices by nearly half as part of a new initiative aimed to encourage local and community access. Beginning March 31, combined admission to EMP and SFM will drop from $26.95 to $15 for adults, and from $19.95 to $12 for kids and seniors.

The price cut comes after six years of criticism from some community members who felt that the cost of admission made the museum a tourist destination, rather than an educational and recreational resource for locals.

The original combined ticket prices were higher even than Cleveland's Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame ($11-$20) and New York's Museum of Modern Art ($12-$20) — both national tourist destinations. (Tickets to a single attraction — either EMP or SFM — are no longer available.) New admission prices put EMP and SFM more in line with local family destinations like the Museum of Flight ($7.50-$14) and the Pacific Science Center ($7-$15).

"We've listened to our community, and we kept hearing, 'You have this really fabulous place, but it's a bit expensive, especially for families,' " said Al Abbott, interim director of marketing and communications at the museums.

Lowering the price of admission is not a response to low numbers of visitor attendance, Abbott says. While EMP has struggled to attract visitors since 2001, last year it welcomed over half a million, which is an 11 percent increase from 2005 and the highest number since its launch in 2000.

"This is not about getting more people in the door," said Josi Callan, CEO of both museums. "It's more about addressing the community's concern that people felt excluded. We want to take steps to be more inclusive."

Ongoing

Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum, 325 Fifth Ave. N., Seattle Center; $15 adults, $12 children and seniors (206-367-5483 or www.emplive.org).

Beginning in January, EMP and SFM began offering free admission on the first Thursday of every month. Roughly 1,500 people have attended each all-access event.

Beginning in fall 2007, EMP will work in partnership with the Berklee College of Music in Boston to offer music classes to local kids who do not have resources to attend. Music classes for all community members have also resumed.

Partly in an attempt to make the current exhibit, "Disney: The Magic Behind the Music," more accessible to families, EMP lowered the price of yearlong family memberships last fall to $75. This discount will remain in effect until "Disney" closes on Sept. 9 this year.

"We've leaned a lot in the last five years," said Callan. "Every institution learns what works and what doesn't, and I think we've finally learned this lesson [about making admission prices affordable] and now we're poised to do some really great things."

Haley Edwards: 206-464-2745 or hedwards@seattletimes.com

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