Possibly the New York Time’s article on the death of the Met’s iconic metal buttons should have been published in the obituary section since a lot of people seem to be mourning this loss. As both a cultural symbol and cheap souvenir the Met button will surely be missed, because as of Monday our favorite little metal token will go bye, bye.
Introduced to New Yorkers 42 years ago in 1971, the metal button has become synonymous with the Met’s identity and like a brand name it is a signifier of cultural wealth to the passerby on the sidewalk. The Met’s reason behind the switch from metal to paper is, like all reasons, monetary. With 6 million visitors annually and the price of metal rising, the Met proclaimed that “It just became too expensive. We saw that it was inevitable.” Maybe we can blame the economy for this one, or perhaps with the “pay as you wish” admission fee scandal people stopped paying and ironically killed the button budget themselves, just a thought.
It is unfortunate though, and I’m sad to see the button go. I’ll admit when I first read the news I was wondering if I had any stashed somewhere at home because now, *gasp,* I CAN’T GET ANOTHER ONE! BUT… I can’t complain that the museum wants to cut dollars in one place and spend it somewhere better in another, like on exhibitions, artwork, public programing etc. Yes, yes I know people everywhere are still boohooing over this catastrophic cultural loss, but on the bright side the Met is now “going green,” (doesn’t that make you feel better?!) by no longer using a non-renewable resource and switching to one that is not only renewable, but is also biodegradable. I know you’ll now remind me of the Met’s recycling bins, but as you and I know we all have seen plenty of Met buttons on the sidewalks around the museum due to not only the fact that the buttons easily fall off, but that people are unfortunately litter bugs. The Met states that the new paper ticket will still have the signature “M” on it, but it will undoubtedly feel less significant than the old metal button. My prediction is the old button will now become a hot and eventually rare commodity, perhaps to be sold in the Met gift shop at an escalated price or re-purposed as “vintage jewelry,” on Etsy. Either way people who haven’t already been hoarding Met buttons will definitely start now! R.I.P Met Button you will no longer adorn my shirts, coats, or bags, but you will always have a place in my heart.