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Science Museum Limits Free Tuesdays to City Residents

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Free Tuesdays at the Science Museum for anyone other than Buffalo city residents are now extinct. Museum officials said the new policy, which goes into effect beginning next Tuesday, was needed to control traffic and increase revenues.

The experiment that made Tuesdays free to everyone at the science museum is over. Unless you're a city resident, with state issued ID, you will have to pay for admission to the museum.

Museum President David Cheseborough says the original policy was intended to make admission possible to those who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford it. But the Free Tuesdays became so popular -- to people throughout the region -- that traffic there on Tuesdays is now too heavy. And Cheseborough says that means fewer paying customers on other days.

"If you can go to anything for free, versus paying for it, you know everyone will start to modify their behavior to go for free," said Cheseborough. "The intention wasn't necessarily to offer everyone the free policy. At first we were offering free afternoons and promoting it predominately in our neighborhood."

And Cheseborough says the result is a loss in revenue at a time when they can least afford it. Like other culturals, the museum lost all city funding. Total government funding cutbacks left the museum with about $100,000 less last year alone. He says they also took a financial risk on the blockbuster Dinomania exhibit, extending it through the summer as an anchor for the Summerlong Sensation. Bottomline Cheseborough says they can't afford to lose admisssion dollars. But he says that doesn't mean people will be turned away who can't afford to pay.

"We have to make sure people have access to us," said Cheseborough. "If you need to make some snap decisions at the front lines, that's all what customer service is all about. So, we are empowering the front line staff to make adjustments, as they see fit, as we're going through this transition."

Cheseborough says they will also soon be adding four days throughout the year when the museum will grant free admission to all individuals residing outside the city of Buffalo.