Gransnet forums


Is it time to make a charge?

(75 Posts)
vickymeldrew Tue 31-Jul-18 17:22:20

I’ve just returned from a visit to the Natural History Museum in London. Beautiful building in a lovely area of London. Huge swathes of people were snaking around the gardens and sweeping through the entrance doors roughly six abreast, all ignoring signs suggesting ‘£5 donation’. Since 2001 entrance to museums in the UK has been free of charge. The vast majority of visitors in London are tourists. Since when has it been our responsibility to educate the world? Most other countries charge to enter their own museums so why don’t we? UK residents should be able to enter free of charge but surely tourists should pay.

Bridgeit Tue 31-Jul-18 17:48:22

Maybe a minimal fee for all, can’t see why just tourist should pay.

trisher Tue 31-Jul-18 17:51:02

Some museums do charge admission to special exhibitions, but allow free access to the main collection. In some cases some of the exhibits have actually been 'collected'in other countries and alowing free entry means that as they are able to see them for free the country of origin is unlikely try to reclaim them. The big sources of income are of course the museum shops where foreigners spend on souvenirs. Arguably visitors have a limited amount to spend and if they paid to get in they wouldn't spend in the shop.

SpanielNanny Tue 31-Jul-18 18:01:08

I couldn’t possibly support a charge for tourists but not for uk residents. This just seems a bit ridiculous to me.

I can understand the call for a minimal fee to all, to help with upkeep etc. However my father always held the view that museums were full of artefacts that had been donated to the people, and believed that charging to see them was immoral, and I must say I can fully see his point.

vickymeldrew Tue 31-Jul-18 18:07:57

As a tourist abroad I’ve been charged many times, with locals free of charge. However, I do think these huge London museums are a special case as they attract so many visitors from abroad. It was today’s experience with such huge crowds ignoring the donation boxes that made me think about this, especially as our national collections need revenue to contine their excellence.

crystaltipps Tue 31-Jul-18 18:25:24

Some museums charge an entrance fee but then you can visit free for the next 12 months. This means locals can pop in as many times as they like in the year but only pay once. I would support this. My favourite museum is the V and A I have an annual
Membership which costs £70 which means I get into all the exhibitions free with a + 1 and there is a gorgeous members lounge and restaurant, plus talks throughout the year. So definitely worth it for me.

Ilovecheese Tue 31-Jul-18 19:18:23

The shops, cafes, and restaurants in museums and galleries are where the money is made, as Trisher says. The free entrance is a sort of "loss leader" to bring people in. They are businesses, and know what brings in maximum revenue.

Eloethan Wed 01-Aug-18 00:10:35

People ought to donate but unfortunately many don't. Even at £5 it's very good value but, if some people think that's too much, I'm sure all but the poorest could afford at least 50p.

I wouldn't want to see set charges re-introduced. It would deter some families from visiting - especially if they had two or three children, and schools would be less likely to visit also.

As someone else said, I too believe that free access to our wonderful galleries and museums must be a great draw for tourists.

jenpax Wed 01-Aug-18 09:03:13

£5 doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you are a party of 4,two adults and two children that’s £20!and getting up to London is very expensive too for many of us. so I can see why people dodge the £5 per a visitor “donation” at the big London Museums.
I agree that these places make a lot of their money from the cafes and gift shops they are always bursting with tourists keen to spend!

eazybee Wed 01-Aug-18 09:20:16

A £5 donation per family would be reasonable, and not beyond most visitors pockets.

eazybee Wed 01-Aug-18 09:21:29

(slinks back to Pedants' Corner.)

jenpax Wed 01-Aug-18 09:30:36

When I last visited the V&A in March it was not clear if the £5 was per person or group, it read to me as £5 per person and if that is how others read it then I can see why families may bulk at the payments!

Jenb60 Wed 01-Aug-18 09:39:20

When our children were small, there were entry fees for museums and I bought annual passes which weren’t much more than the initial entry fees and they were very well used. The Natural History, the Science Museum, British Museum, V&A are world class and attract people from all over the world. When we go abroad not only do we pay a tourist tax but we pay to go into museums. I think it’s ridiculous that we don’t raise extra cash for essential services, e.g. police and for funding the museums themselves by doing the same.

gillybob Wed 01-Aug-18 10:25:44

I think Crystaltips has got it spot on!

Everyone should pay once but you can visit as many times as you like during the year which means locals can visit more often.

Beamish Museum in the NE has this system where your entrance fee buys you visits for an entire year. There are many other places that operate similarly.

Ilovecheese Wed 01-Aug-18 14:44:23

Charging an entrance fee might make things seem fairer, i.e. why should tourists have free admission in our country while we have to pay in theirs?

But what it would not do is raise money for the NHS etc.
Museums and galleries make their income primarily from food and then gifts.

So don't resent tourists when you see them walking in for free, just smile to yourself when you see them eating a bowl of overpriced broccoli soup or buying a £15 tea towel.

Deedaa Thu 02-Aug-18 22:30:57

It's a hard one because when I was a teenager I spent a lot of Saturdays going round the museums. I could go backwards and forwards between the V&A and the Nat. Host. Couldn't have done it if I'd had to pay.

OldMeg Thu 02-Aug-18 22:35:08

Wouldn’t support a charge. Just been to BMAG this week, full of families with children. Great to see them taking advantage of this wonderful free experience.

Paid through the nose for coffee and cake and in the gift shop. I’m sure that’s where they make a bit of profit.

PECS Thu 02-Aug-18 22:52:57

I have no idea how much museums make from their voluntary donations but I often see quite a lot of money in the big cases .. but then it might have been like that for months or they may be emptied hard to judge. I am sure that this has been thought about by the business managers/trustees. Several places do have that annual ticket scheme where one payment gets unlimited visits for a year... Transport Museum, Covent Gdn springs to mind.

Deedaa Fri 03-Aug-18 11:48:34

You do have to pay to visit some of the special exhibitions they have and that can be very expensive.

varian Fri 03-Aug-18 11:59:58

Since most of our National Museums are in London, the free entrance is a great boon to Londoners, but most of us have few opportunities to visit them.

AlieOxon Fri 03-Aug-18 12:50:04

The trouble with minimal fees is that often they don't stay that way. Anyone remember prescriptions at 20p?

paddyann Fri 03-Aug-18 13:41:32

Museums in Scotland ..and art galleries were always free entry.Thats why so many of us spent so much time on wet weekends in them,it was the go to place for parents tearing their hair out .I spent more weekends in Kelvingrove than at home I'm sure ,and loved every minute .Most of my friends were the same ,it 's rare to find a family whose second home wasn't Glasgow museums and galleries

paddyann Fri 03-Aug-18 13:44:09

I saw a bit on TV last night about the DALI bought in 1952 for £8200 ...luckily they were savvy enough to get copyrights with the it has paid for itself many many times over .

Maggiemaybe Fri 03-Aug-18 13:55:27

the free entrance is a great boon to Londoners, but most of us have few opportunities to visit them

This is why I dodge the donations box, varian. We love a trip to London, but it's always expensive in terms of travel and accommodation alone. Also, we cram a lot into our couple of days so can rarely stay long in one museum. We're suckers for a good if overpriced cafe though. smile

Eloethan Fri 03-Aug-18 23:00:30

AlieOxon I think you've hit the nail right on the head. There are so many examples of what was initially a "nominal" fee which courted no opposition turning into a significant amount of money.

I'm thinking of the residential parking permits in our area that started at around £30 a year and are now £120. And hourly permits for visitors have also increased substantially in price.