Lonely Planet Writer

This Chicago museum is highlighting the gender pay gap in a unique way

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago is lowering admissions for visitors who feel their earning potential has been negatively impacted by the gender wage gap. The new pricing tier will come into effect at the end of the month to coincide with a major retrospective of feminist photographer Laurie Simmons’ work.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago has a unique way of highlighting the pay gap. (Pictured: protesters at Women’s March, Chicago in 2018) Image by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It’s a persistent fact that women earn less than men. According to the World Economic Forum, women across the globe earn on average $12,000 (€11,000/£9,000) a year, compared to $21,000 (€19,000/£17,000) for men. To highlight the issue and to demonstrate the need to close the gap, the MCA is offering reduced admission to anyone who feels their earning potential has been negatively impacted by the gender wage gap.

Starting next month, those visitors can pay a $12 (€11/£9) admission fee, rather than the full price of $15 (€13/£12). The 81% reduction in cost represents the pay gap in the United States where women take home 81 cents* for every dollar their male counterparts do, while for women of colour the disparity is even greater.

The initiative coincides with the launch of Laure Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera Image by Laurie Simmons

The new pricing structure will come into effect on Sunday, 24 February, the day after the launch of Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera, a major exhibition of the acclaimed feminist photographer’s work, which was organised by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The exhibition presents all of her major series, including some never-before-seen pieces, which examine archetypal gender roles and the American dream.

The reduced admission was MCA Director Madeleine Grynsztejn’s idea and was inspired by Simmons’ “activism to expose inequality across the lines of gender, sexuality and race.” It was announced by curator Naomi Beckwith at a preview for the upcoming Simmons and Virgil Abloh exhibitions. The new pricing tier will come into effect on the opening weekend of Simmons’ exhibition and continue for the run of the show until 5 May, 2019. The first day of the exhibition, however, is free for all guests, regardless of their gender.

MCA director Madeleine Grynsztejn, artist Laure Simmons and curator Naomi Beckwith. Image by Griffin Lipson

MCA’s suggested admission is $15 (€13/£12) for adults and $8 (€7/£6) for students, teachers, and seniors. It’s free to all Illinois citizens every Tuesday. For more information or to book tickets, see here.