There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but there is such a thing as free admission.
At least at Penn's Institute of Contemporary Art, that is, where a donation from '88 Wharton alumnus Glenn Fuhrman will eliminate admission costs for the next five years, beginning July 1.
This is the first time admission to the ICA will be free to the general public since the Institute's move to 36th and Sansom Street. Currently, the museum is free for all members of the Penn community and $6 for all other adult guests.
At the ICA, officials are excited at the prospect of bringing more people to the museum.
"We're hoping to draw a diverse audience - perhaps first-timers, people who've never come here before and more of the local community," said Jill Katz, ICA manager of marketing and communications.
Katz also hopes "people will not feel that they have to take everything in all at once during their visit, but that they can come as many times as they'd like."
Others say the donation will lead to increased accessibility to artists and their art.
"Integral to ICA's long-range strategic plan of creating access to living artists, free admission allows ICA to continue to be the premier destination for experiencing contemporary art - where everyone can feel welcome, energized and inspired," ICA Director Claudia Gould said in a press release.
Fuhrman, who attended Wharton as both an undergraduate and a graduate student, studied art history at Penn and was fond of the ICA. He is currently an ICA overseer and a contemporary art collector.
Since graduating he has actively supported the museum, sponsoring a lecture series for the Art History department from 1997 to 2005.
Penn President Amy Gutmann praised Fuhrman "for his vision and generosity, which will open the world of contemporary art to new audiences," she said in a press release.
Eliminating admissions costs has always been part of the ICA's plan, and Fuhrman's gift fits nicely into the museum's long-term strategy, Katz said.
This donation represents a donation both to the ICA directly and to the University's $3.5 billion capital campaign, of which the art museum is responsible for raising $17 million.
*This article was edited on Friday, June 27, 2008 at 9:44 p.m. to reflect the corrections printed in the July 10, 2008 issue of the Summer Pennsylvanian.
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