Demand for Advance Passes to National Museum of African American History and Culture Overwhelms Ticketing Services


Visitors wanting April admission passes to the National Museum of African American History and Culture were stymied again by an online ticketing service that was overwhelmed by demand.

It was the second time the museum’s online system posed problems for the general public. In October, the computer system could not distribute passes for January through March, forcing the museum to reschedule the release. Those passes eventually sold out.

Wednesday’s problems weren’t as dire because the passes were distributed, according to Beverly Morgan-Welch, the museum’s associate director for external affairs.

The museum said almost 108,000 were distributed to the general public for the month. They were gone by 12:15 p.m.

Visitors waited in online queues for more than 20 minutes only to learn the passes they were seeking were gone. This message conflicted with the website’s calendar, which showed passes were still available. Others received a message that said, “This performance is not on sale.”

Those trying to obtain passes by phone sometimes received a taped message saying it was not a working number.

Museum officials introduced the passes before opening to limit wait times and control crowds in the galleries. The passes designate a date and time for entry into the newest branch of the Smithsonian. Once inside, visitors may stay as long as they like. Last month, the museum reported current weekday attendance was averaging about 6,300, with weekend crowds about 8,500.

Morgan-Welch said the museum increased its online capacity but could not keep up with demand. As many as 25,000 visitors logged on when the passes became available at 9 a.m.

“The service is doing relatively well, but when you have that many (people) trying to do the same thing, it’s not something we can get around,” Morgan-Welch said.

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Source: The Washington Post |  Peggy McGlone