Last Tuesday, the Detroit Institute of Arts got a major vote of confidence from area voters when they approved a millage request to fund the museum. Taxpayer support means the museum will have a stable source of funding for the next ten years.
The next day, the museum was free to the residents in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties.
The Detroit Free Press reports attendance more than tripled when comparing the same five-day period a year ago.
Nearly 8,000 visitors poured into the museum through Sunday, about 5,000 of whom were admitted free as residents of the tri-county area. About 2,000 people paid general admission fees, and 900 others were admitted free as members.
In 2011, about 2,600 people visited the museum during the same August week, 350 of them members. Standard admission fees are $4-$8.
Free admission after the millage passed wasn't the only reason for the bump in attendance.
DIA Chief Operating Officer Annmarie Erickson told the Freep that the publicity the museum received during the millage debate also helped. In addition, the DIA now has four solid exhibitions featuring Matisse, Picasso, Vermeer, and photography by Patti Smith.
"We were in the news a lot, and we were advertising at a rate that we rarely do," said Chief Operating Officer Annmarie Erickson. "Even though it was millage-related, it was all about the value of the DIA.
"It's a combination of heightened awareness because of advertising and media, a good menu of offerings this summer and the fact that we now have free admission."