The Chronicle’s View: Four dollars is not too much to ask for good art

Pablo Picasso, who knew something of the value of the arts, once said, “The arts lie to reveal a greater truth.”

How true this is. And how important it is for steps to be taken to preserve the arts and provide a way for all individuals to have access to them.

Picasso also said, “Give me a museum and I’ll fill it.” His statement has proved prophetic as many of his masterpieces have drawn millions of visitors in countless museums throughout the world.

This has been the goal of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts-to fill its hallways and rooms with quality pieces of art and scores of patrons coming to view them. Some people may feel that its decision to begin charging visitors a $4 entry fee beginning May 1 will hinder its resolve to attract more visitors.

But anybody who has visited the museum since its restoration knows that the admission charge is well worth the price. UMFA directors have gone to great lengths to bring in quality exhibits. The fee will help the museum to continue to do so. It will also assist UMFA in extending its hours and providing special programs and concerts for students.

The notion of an entrance fee is also easier to swallow considering the state has withheld funding this year that UMFA has received in recent years-funding that has, in the past, helped finance education programs geared toward exposing elementary students to the arts.

In addition to charging the public a small fee, it would be wise for UMFA to form alliances with other museums in the state which do receive state monies, such as the Utah Natural History Museum and eventually the Leonardo Museum, approved by voters last November.

It is important to note that the $4 fee will be waived for U students, faculty and staff, providing additional incentive to take advantage of the exhibits and programs it offers. Granted, UMFA is not the same caliber of museum as the Met or the Guggenheim in New York City or any other number of museums throughout the country.

But this is Salt Lake City-not New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles. We should be grateful for what art galleries we have. If we take advantage of existing venues and show there is a genuine interest in good artwork-or in Picasso’s words, if we fill the museums-then eventually, Salt Lake City could become a well respected center for the arts.

Four dollars is not too much to ask to enjoy great pieces of art-to learn “a greater truth” brought about by paint on canvas or sculpted clay.

And for students and faculty, “free” is especially too good to pass up.