The first increases in admission since the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum opened in 2005 take effect March 1.




 

The first increases in admission since the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum opened in 2005 take effect March 1.

Director Rick Beard said the new costs — including a 33 percent increase in adult admission — would bring the museum into line with other presidential museums.

“It’s undervalued for the experience,” Beard said Thursday.

Beard said he began considering a change as soon as he started the job in November 2006, adding that the new prices were based on a survey of admission prices for local tourism and entertainment, and a comparison to other presidential libraries.

The new and existing admission charges are:

* $10; $.7.50.

* Children, ages 5-15, $4.00; $3.50

* Seniors, students and active-duty military personnel, $7; $5.50.

Prearranged school groups and young children will continue to be admitted free. Adult group prices will remain at $5.50 per person. The Lincoln Presidential Library does not charge admission.

Adult admission to other presidential libraries and museums ranges from $6 at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa, to $14 at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum in Hyde Park, N.Y.

There is one exception. Lyndon Johnson’s facility, in Austin, Texas, is free.

Beard said he doesn’t expect the higher price to discourage visitors. Attendance in the first year after the museum opened in April 2005 totaled 575,000 and dropped to 490,000 in the following year.

Attendance from April through December 2007 was approximately 356,000, but Beard said a decline in attendance could be expected after a new facility opens.

“It takes three to four years to establish a baseline,” he said.

He said higher ticket prices would allow the museum to fund more special programs and events. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation also has started a membership drive, and plans are in the works to include reciprocal benefits at other museums.

The library and museum’s annual budget is about $12.8 million, which covers expenses for the library, museum, Union Square Park and Union Station. Of that, $8.25 million comes from state funding, and the remainder from admission, parking and rental fees.



Pete Sherman can be reached at (217) 788-1539.