Met Token Dress

This dress by Ji Eon Kang from the collection of the Costume Institute is made from the Met’s metal admission buttons.

Even for those of us who can’t afford to drape ourselves in conceptual Prada accessories, New York has always provided her citizens with a ready and inexpensive way to communicate their intellectual tendencies and overall aesthetic sophistication: a little tin clip-on tag that shows one has recently been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

For years there was no better budget accessory to make one feel like a fancy, fancy person. Depending on how much of the suggested donation one actually paid for entry, a person could clip on a brightly colored tin admission token and go around all day convinced everyone thought he or she was fancy. But, unfortunately, the rising price of metal has made them too expensive, and that particular fashion accessory will go the way of many things after today.

Starting tomorrow, the museum will be replacing the metal tags with some less expensive stickers, and judging from my personal Facebook friends page, a lot of people are really upset about it. (“Noooooooooo!” appeared to be the general consensus.)

Even museum director Thomas P. Campbell is maudlin about the change.

“I regret it slightly myself,” he said to the New York Times. “One of my assistants has a whole rainbow of the colored buttons on her desk.”

Harold Holzer, the museum’s senior vice president of public affairs, described the buttons as “an antiquated luxury.”

“We realize, without sounding crass, that it’s a beloved brand and a beloved symbol,” Holzer said. “It just became too expensive. We saw that it was inevitable.” According to the New York Times:

To keep up with the more than six million people who visit each year, the museum orders 1.6 million of the buttons four times a year, Mr. Holzer said, and they now cost about three cents per button, up from two cents only a few years ago. The new paper tickets will cost only about a penny each, and they will give the museum the space to promote shows, new and soon to close, and, Mr. Holzer added, a space “to sell to corporate sponsors” for advertising.

The stickers will be better for the environment than the metal tabs, even though the museum tried to get people to recycle the badges on their way out of the museum.

The badges were produced by a manufacturing company in Chelsea in a variety of colors, so the museum could change the day’s badge color at random to prevent people from re-using the previous day’s. I always wanted one in pink but never managed to show up on the right day. It’s a little sad to think the clip-on badges are over now, but it’s not like the art is gone. In fact, it’s more accessible than ever, since starting tomorrow the museum will also be open seven days a week. It was previously closed on Mondays.

Via The New York Times/Photo: Facebook/The Metropolitan Museum of Art