The Museums Association is running a new poll to see whether the public think that entry fees into temporary exhibitions are too high. We all know that mounting loan exhibitions and curating touring exhibitions costs a lot of money. The insurance alone would make your eyes water, but has the practice of charging high fees become so elitist that many members of the public are only going to the free parts of the museum and avoiding the temporary shows.
London’s national museums and galleries have established a reputation for show-stopping exhibitions. But the impact of these blockbusters isn’t merely cultural: they can also make a significant dent in visitors’ bank balances. Entry to the British Museum’s current Celts exhibition will set you back £16.50, as will the forthcoming Sunken Cities and the current Alexander Calder exhibition at Tate Modern costs £18 (£16.40 if you opt out of the voluntary donation).
The museums and galleries may argue that such prices are necessary to help cover their operating costs and continue allowing free entry to permanent exhibitions. But others ask whether steep charges are counterproductive. Charles Saatchi, who allows free entry to the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, has argued that admission charges only account for a small proportion of institutions’ income and called high entry prices “irritating” and “perplexing”.
We have provided a link at the bottom of page so you can have your say in this highly contentious practice. Are entry prices for London’s temporary exhibitions too high?