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Globe Editorial

'The Clock': Don't be ticked off

August 19, 2011

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It’s great to see enthusiasm for “The Clock,’’ the video installation opening next month at the Museum of Fine Arts. But any outrage over $200 tickets for the exhibit’s opening-night party is misplaced.

A 24-hour film by artist Christian Marclay, “The Clock’’ involves hundreds of movie and television clips, synched to the actual times of the day. Part of the experience involves seeing the piece at different times, including the middle of the night. The MFA will unveil it at 7 p.m. on Sept. 17, with the opening of the new Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art. The museum is offering tiered prices for the celebration: $200 for a 7 p.m. gala; $100 for an 11 p.m. party with a deejay; and $50 for a “wee hours’’ party at 3 a.m.

MFA officials say the charges will defray the costs of food, drink, and entertainment, and they won’t reap any extra money. Anyone will be able to see “The Clock’’ for free beginning at 7 a.m. on Sept. 18, as part of a “Community Day’’ event. And they have announced a free 24-hour screening on Columbus Day weekend.

Early, private access to a famous work of art is an appealing perk. That’s why arts organizations often charge for opening events. By those standards, the MFA’s gala is relatively inexpensive and benign. So long as the public can see the film inexpensively down the line, even in the wee hours, nobody needs to fret.