Sunday, July 22, 2007

MSI deters usage by Chicagoans? Resident Rates Nearly Same as Non-Residents

What follows, below, is an open letter to the Museum of Science and Industry from a resident. Our Museums and Recreation facilities give everyone except actual Chicago residents a good deal on admission. In most situations, there is no charge; the reverse is not true in the suburbs.

To see what the writer is referring to, go to

In most large Cities, residents get significant discounts to museums. Chicago Museums do little to encourage museum usage by Chicago Residents. The reason; they really don't want residents to go to the museums. Finally, the Rogers Park Branch of the Chicago Public Library RARELY HAS MSI or Field museum passes (as well as must others).
What good are museums when only the suburbanites and out of town tourists can afford to visit them on a reguolar basis. Our property taxes pay for this. If you don't like it, e-mail and Let the Alderman know that this is an issue of concern. Let MSI know the reasons few Chicago go to the Museums as frequently. They think that they can get free passes that are never available.

Here is an open letter to Alderman Moore. Feel free to cut, paste and e-mail to both MSI and Alderman Moore, with the writers permission. We have discussed this on more than one occasions. If you want to get creative look for the Chicago Tribune's article in its archive or go to the University of Chicago's web site and see if you can find the article on low use of Museums by Chicago Residents. I hate to usurp this appropriate correspondence. This sort of concern is long overdue.

Now, the letter.

This follows up the Chicago Tribune article from the University of Chicago’s Research on Museum usage by City residents. I told the U of C researcher that I thought that the query was flawed. We are extremely disappointed that as Chicago Residents, our taxes pay more than many suburbanites for the museum campus system. A one dollar discount for residents is a slap in the face. It does not add up. MSI Passes are rarely available in Rogers Park, as well.

Instead, we wait patiently for the Chicago Public Library to release free MSI passes, which is the equivalent of Waiting for Godot. Interestingly, there is no reciprocity and City of Chicago residents must pay unreasonably higher fees to use suburban beaches and pools. The suburbs, like Highland Park and Skokie, don’t care about Chicagoans. Those Chicagoans 'who can' travel get slapped by the suburbs for beach, golf and water park fees. Suburbanites and non-residents pay nothing to use our beaches. Some suburbs even have mutual reciprocity. This is sad and a political solution is long over due. We managed to get to use one MSI pass for one trip in the last six years.

The City should work on reciprocity with Museums like the MSI. Requiring non-residents who often have more money to pay a fee that is higher. Residents deserve a $4-5 dollar discount per family member, when the fee is more than $10 per person. When we use the Highland Park, Schaumburg, and Skokie pools, we never get reciprocity (like some cities) and must pay significantly more to use those beaches, greens, and pools. We hope that our Alderman looks into this situation, so I am cc-ing Joseph Moore the information.

We used to be MSI members, but avoid it for several reasons. First, the cost went astronomical for a Family membership. Now, residents have to pay the same as non-residents for membership. Second, we lost free parking rights in many of the memberships categories. Third, we don't go that often, anymore. Fourth, we remain disgusted with how Chicagoans are treated by MSI, when contrasted with comparable “resident fee” charges for membership or use of museums in other major Cities and the suburbs. Perhaps, the difference might come with contributions at fundraisers!

Furthermore, If your local Chicago Public Library runs out of passes, as most do, then you have to run around the Library System looking for a pass. This can prove futile since many are unavailable, lost, or always out. If you find a pass, then you must return to a Branch like Austin to return them. We live in Rogers Park. There are NO MSI Passes.

We will pay for limited exhibits, but how can Chicagoans pay for it if cannot get in the door at reasonable fee. Chicago residents would if they could, but many can't or are disappointed so they don't. We feel like the suburbanites run the museums. Perhaps, if you treated Chicagoans with more respect, they would show up to the MSI and volunteer more, as well. The current fee structure is a great disappointment.

Sincerely and Regrettably,

Rogers Park
49th Ward

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