2nd December 2011
Yesterday say the 10th anniversary of free entry for all our national museums. According to The Museums Association, a museum is “an institution which collects documents, preserves, exhibits and interprets material evidence and associated information for the public benefit”. They are also enable the public to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment and are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society be it specialised, local or national.
On 1st December 2001 with the help of government and lottery funding all national museums and many galleries in theUK became free. For many visitors both domestic and international a visit to a major city in theUK, such asLondon orEdinburgh is a vastly more expensive than our European neighbours.
So why is it so important to keep these institutions open? Firstly by keeping them free it encourages more people to cross the door. This enables school trips to be cheaper as only transport cost will be a big issue. It as changed visiting a museum for the day from a expensive luxury to something more accessible.
Some of my lasting memories of childhood involve giant whales at the national history museum, the moon buggy and launch pad at the science museum, and seeing the three graces at the V&A.
By having free entry to museums in London you have made them more than a museum to look at but places to meet and get a coffee in there cafes restaurants for them to eat at, shops for gifts not just souvenirs. It stimulated a new economy that would happen if people had to pay to gain entry.
In time of economic crisis museums and galleries enrich a depressed nation, are a warm positive environment for those of us without a job, they are a place of escapism that transport you through time space universes, explain the unexplainable and endeavour to try and discover the impossible. They are like stepping through the back of the wardrobe into Narna to escape WW2; they are a place to forget your troubles for an hour of too.
Even if just 1 in every 100 children that pass through a door becomes inspired to become an inventor, scientist, palaeontologist, artist, archaeologist a geologist or explorer then free entry to museums has been a worth while and enriching experience that has worked.
So here is to the next decade of free access to Museums and galleries long may you reach them many and inspire dreams and enrich lives.