So Long Metropolitan Museum Buttons, Hello Paper Tickets

New Metropolitan Museum of Art Paper Ticket-Metal Buttons
Left: The 16 colors of the former Metropolitan Museum Metal Buttons. Source: Hack the Met. Right: Wesley Yiin for Untapped Cities

Nostalgia mostly reigned as the Metropolitan Museum retired its iconic metal button this weekend and introduced paper tickets on Monday. It was an austerity measure, with the price of the metal tags at 3 cents per piece, versus the 1 cent for the paper ticket (along with a large growth in annual visitors since 1971). But we think it’s more than the price. The new tickets are designed with space to promote exhibitions and even advertising from corporate sponsors. In addition, the museum is now open on Mondays for the first time in its history.

We went to the Met yesterday to check out the new sticker tickets, which include a reproduction of the well-known logo.

That left section of the ticket peels off so you can wear it, but mostly, it’s pretty uninteresting. The new tickets can however accomodate timed entry into events, and museum spokesman Harold Holzer tells MSN, “Agility beats nostalgia every time.” The recycling bin for the old metal tags was still on the floor of the lobby yesterday, but a security guard forbid us from taking its picture.

Here are some fun facts about the retired tags:

  • There were 16 colors in rotation during the last years of use, but “hundreds of colors have gone in and out of circulation,” according to the Met. The colors were changed daily but chosen random.
  • The M logo was adapted from a 1509 book by Luca Paciolo called De divina proportione, the first known publication to discuss the shapes and proportions of classical Roman letters.
  • The tags were introduced on January 1, 1971, a year after the museum instituted a suggested donation policy. The tag replaced a two-color, envelope sized ticket that was used in 1970.
  • The button had been converted into a dress in 1997 by Parons student Ji Eong Kang, now part of the Met Museum collection (in storage).

Ji Eon Kang-Dress-Metropolitan Museum Buttons-Metal