British Museum Should Charge Visitors £20 Entry Fee, Says Former Director - The World News

British Museum Should Charge Visitors £20 Entry Fee, Says Former Director

The former director of the British Museum, one of the many London institutions that offers free admission, recently suggested that foreign tourists should pay an entry fee of £20 ($25), a measure that he said could help generate extra funds.

“The money has to come from somewhere,” Mark Jones, who served as interim director last year, told the Sunday Times on June 30.

Jones told the Sunday Times that while museums should remain free of charge for British taxpayers and foreign visitors under 25, visitors from abroad should pay a general admission fee to institutions such as the British Museum and the Natural History Museum.

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People admire the Parthenon Marbles inside the Parthenon Galleries in the British Museum. The marbles are also known as Elgin Marbles, with sculptures are artifacts of the frieze and the East Pediment from the Parthenon in the Acropolis of Athens. The marbles are displayed to visitors in the British Museum. The Greek government is in dispute with the British government and the museum, demanding the return of the marbles. London, United Kingdom UK on August 2022 (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“The British put a very high value on free entry to museums—that is our tradition,” he said. “People who support museums as taxpayers shouldn’t also have to pay to visit them.”

Jones said the admission price of “around £20” would also reduce crowds at exhibits and the length of time for visitors waiting to enter.

“The museum is too busy for people to experience it as they should; fighting your way through the crowds doesn’t put you in the best state of mind to look at the collections,” Jones told The Sunday Times.

The former head of the Victoria and Albert Museum also said the additional revenue could improve staff pay and lower the price of tickets for special exhibitions.

Last December, the British Museum announced a controversial, £50 million ($63.3 million) 10-year-sponsorship deal with BP that would help fund the refurbishment and redisplay of the museum’s permanent collection. The total cost of the “extensive refurbishment” for the London museum is between £400 and £500 million, according to the Independent.

Jones was appointed to the interim director position at the British Museum in September after the institution admitted that more than 1,500 items from its collections had been lost, stolen, or damaged, prompting director Hartwig Fischer’s resignation last August. Jones left the position this month following the permanent appointment of Nicholas Cullinan in March.

In Jones’s interview with the Sunday Times, he also said the institution should share the long-disputed Parthenon Marbles with Greece.

“If we were ever to find a way to create a partnership with the Greeks over the Parthenon Marbles, we would need to find a way to fund it,” said Jones.

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