Free admission boosts sense of public ownership of national museums 5/7/2009
Visits to national museums and galleries are at a record high for the third year running, with more than 40.3 million such visits recorded last year. Since free admission was introduced in 2001, visits to previously charging museums have more than doubled, from 7.2 million eight years ago to 16 million last year.
New public value research published by the Art Fund and the Work Foundation found that free admission to galleries is highly valued and important in making public ownership of the nation’s art real in people’s minds. The report, Free to see – but what next?, reveals that even if people do not regularly visit museums themselves, they feel free admission is valuable to society as a whole. The research also found that, despite the removal of admission fees, other barriers remain which prevent people from visiting galleries and museums, including a lack of knowledge about the art on display and a sense of being intimidated by the buildings themselves. The Art Fund hopes the report will prompt more public debate about the values the public attaches to art in public collections and how these can be increased.