While a number of high-profile museums across the country have gone from fee to free (some still charge for special exhibits) in recent years, it remains to be seen whether anything like that could take root at some of Chicago's institutions. Below, a comparison of the Art Institute of Chicago, which charges admission, the Dallas Museum of Art, which converted to free admission last year, and the Cleveland Art Museum, which has been free for nearly a century.


Art Institute of Chicago

The museum, where "American Gothic" is displayed, has always had at least a suggested donation. Founded in 1879, it now charges admission.


Dallas Museum of Art

The museum, whose collection includes "Paper Clip" by James Rosenquist, received a $9 million donation after going from fee to free in 2013.


Cleveland Museum of Art

Has had free admission since it opened in 1916. "Stag at Sharkey's" can be seen at the museum.


COMPARING THE MUSEUMS


Art Institute of Chicago Dallas Museum of Art Cleveland Museum of Art
Ticket price: $23 Free Free
Visitors: 1.54 million 542,000 597,715
Expenses: $104.5 million $27.6 million $45.3 million
Admissions revenue: $11.8 million $800,000 (from special exhibitions) $736,500 (from special exhibitions)
Admissions as a proportion of expenses: 11.3% 2.9% 1.6%
Donations: $34.8 million $33 million $46.2 million

SOURCE: 2013 data from the museums. Art images courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art

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