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Tuesday, June 26, 2007


You do have to wonder about the intelligence of some politicians. Lets take Hugo Swire, the shadow Culture Secretary.

He was was recently quoted in a Sunday newspaper saying the Conservatives might consider relaxing the current ban on charges. "We do not want to ban free admissions, but we believe museums and galleries should have the right to charge if they wish to,' he told The Mail on Sunday.

"They could use the money to make their facilities even better and could have special arrangements allowing continued free access for children, students and others."

Mr Swire soon had to make a climb down. Now to be fair I don't think Mr Swire was talking about introducing charges for the sake of making profit.

Since charges were abolished in 2001 Museum attendance has grown enormously which is surely a good thing. Lots of my favourite memories of school are trips to the National History Museum and the Science Museum. I can still remember Dinosaur skeletons and that massive model of a Blue Whale.

Encouraging families to visit something educational must surely be a good thing. If you whack a large charge on it families will surely have to ration their visits.

I would argue that it is, or should be, a fundamental duty of education policy to encourage people to visit and that funding should be via taxes. Yes there are plenty of calls on our taxes bit I'd call in an investment in our future.

Now here I have to make an embarassing confession. I have NEVER visited the V&A or the British Museum. Oh and the Tate and.... Oh flip somewhere else I really need to go

Of course I do visit lots of "museums" but these tend to be houses in the care of the National Trust or in private ownership.

Of course there are many fine museums outside of London. Anyone wanting to see whats about might want to get hold of Britain's Best Museums and galleries.


Mary said...

I went to the British Museum, for the first time last year........its Massive.(Much bigger than the V and A) We only managed a small part of it , but its well worth a visit. The Tate is a good outing too , assuming you don't mean the Tate Modern.

Dorothea said...

I was chatting to a friend of mine who works in the local authority museums service about this. He tells me that front of house staff (ie the people at the sharp end, dealing with the public) would love to see a small charge brought back, just a quid, say.

The reason for this is that with free entry, a lot of people don't value the museum, and just drift in and out because they're bored,making trouble for the staff. When I say trouble, I mean vandalism, aggression and violence.

If you do now, or have ever, worked with that dreaded item "the public", you'll know just how appalling some of them can be, and with modern attitudes, they're getting worse by the week.

Hey, it's hell out there!

Pete said...

Mary - yes meant the Tate not that modern stuff.

Dorothea - oh I can relate to the public being a pain. I object to the costs being "prohibitive"

Dorothea said...

I guess it depends on what's being prohibited.

Prohibiting vandalism, aggression and violence towards innocent people might be a good idea.

Maybe the UK should try it some time?

Pete said...

but you don't want to exclude those who are genuinely short of dosh.

ultimately it comes down to families doesn't it? if we bring up kids with no sense of morals this is what we get.

As a society we place too much emphasis on "things". and not enough on caring both for people and the environment.