Monday, July 20, 2009
To Free or Not to Free
Whenever we read about Bank of America's Museums on Us program, which offers free admission to a growing list of museums one weekend a month to account-holders, we're a little envious of the museums that can brag about being on its list. The Georgia Museum of Art is always free, so we can't participate, but Art Daily did run an interesting article about free admission to museums and what it means to the public. Museums in the UK have had no admission fees since 2001, and the Art Fund has been studying the results of that decision (its publication is available here as a pdf). The implementation of free admission has led to a doubling in the number of visitors to museums in the UK, and it makes the public feel they have a stake in the collections, but other barriers remain to visitorship increasing still more, such as a sense of exclusion or anxiety about a lack of knowledge. Free is great, but it's not the only answer.