Free Admission Campaign Introduces Assembly Bill #A03059 and State Senate Bill #S5265 Calling for Study of New Yorkers’ Free Admission Rights

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The bills request a report, and recommendations for any corrective legislation, regarding New Yorkers’ rights to free admission and instruction to 17 prized museums, zoos, gardens, science and performing arts centers and an aquarium, situated on coveted parkland

Free Admission, a campaign seeking to codify the facts of New Yorkers’ right to free admission to, and instruction from, the prized museums, zoos, gardens, science and performing art centers and aquarium they subsidize, today announced the introduction of New York State Assembly Bill #A03059 sponsored by Assemblyman Charles D. Fall and State Senate Bill #S5265 sponsored by State Senator Cordell Cleare.

The bills direct the New York State Department of Economic Development, in conjunction with the Department of Education, and New York City’s Parks and Cultural Affairs departments, among others, to conduct a study regarding the controlling laws and incorporating purposes of 17 boroughs-wide, park-situated institutions to inform the legislature whether the institutions’ policies and practices are complying. If they are not, the bills call for recommending corrective legislation.

“Over the course of 150 years, a public-private partnership, providing rent-free use of parkland and buildings to 17 institutions in exchange for free admission and instruction for New Yorkers, was enacted in state and local laws but contradicted in lease and license agreements between the institutions and the City,” said Pat Nicholson, founder of the Free Admission campaign.

“Recently, Governor Hochul signed a law repealing the New York Botanical Garden’s obligation to uphold New Yorkers’ free rights despite Governor Cuomo vetoing the Garden’s campaign as ‘lack[ing] any meaningful analysis … to overturn the long-standing preference to keep this public park free and open to the public … [or keeping the grounds] free for primary and secondary schools, as is required by the law,’” she continued. “Now is the time for New Yorkers to insist that city and state authorities codify, publish and enforce the provisions of the public-private partnership especially given our $1 billion annual subsidy. Assembly Bill #A03059 and Senate Bill #S5265 aim to dissuade similar Garden campaigns without first clarifying the facts of New Yorkers’ rights to free admission to the institutions.”

The 17 institutions are: American Museum of Natural History; Brooklyn Children’s Museum; Central Park Zoo; New York Botanical Garden; Queens [Flushing Meadows Park] Zoo; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Brooklyn Academy of Music; Brooklyn Museum; Museum of the City of New York; New York Hall of Science; Staten Island Museum; Wave Hill; Brooklyn Botanic Garden; Bronx Zoo; New York Aquarium; Prospect Park Zoo; and Staten Island Zoo 

According to year ending 2018 or 2019 financial statements, New Yorkers paid an estimated $112.5 million in admission fees to the 17 institutions in addition to $172.2 million and $59.4 million to fund their operating and capital costs, respectively. Based on a conservative estimate of COVID-impacted rent pricing, the City forfeited more than $700 million in rent – which, if not forgiven but paid, could be used to fund other New Yorker priorities. In total, the 17 institutions receive $1 billion in direct and indirect subsidies from New Yorkers every year, while New Yorkers must pay an admission fee to each of the institutions.

The Free Admission campaign launched a petition in support of Bills #A03059 and #S5265. New Yorkers are asked to sign the petition to sanction the crafting of an “effective and answerable oversight” system to ensure “compliance with statutes, codes, laws and … agreements” regarding New Yorkers’ free rights.

To view and sign Free Admission’s petition in support of Assembly Bill #A03059 and #S5265 visit:

For media inquiries, please contact Jocelin Leon at The TASC Group at 631-276-7314 or

About Free Admission
Free Admission is a campaign to ensure New Yorkers receive our legislated and contractual consideration from the museums, zoos, gardens, science and performing art centers and aquarium we subsidize. The campaign was launched in 2012 after Founder Pat Nicholson discovered that The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and subsequently 16 other institutions, had founding legislation, laws and contracts requiring free admission for New Yorkers in exchange for rent-free use of parkland and city owned buildings. To learn more about Free Admission visit, follow Free Admission on Instagram and Facebook and sign our petition at

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Jocelin Leon