Charging for Museums. ‘Twas ever thus!

Posted by Tenby Museum on Jul 21, 2017 Blog No Comments

“Government Review of Museum Economies”, not a newspaper headline from 2017 but one from 1952*!  The Government needed to save £30,000 on the maintenance of museums and art galleries – already there were closures on certain days of the week, the Public Record Office had had to close, Osterley Park had closed its doors and because of staff shortages a dagger belonging to the Duke of Wellington had recently been stolen from the V&A! (Fake news…this had happened in 1948).  Members of the Commons were advocating charging…it was suggested that the Paymaster General should be sacked, saving the £30,000 to “let the kiddies see the paintings”.  A charge of 6d (or 2.5p) was proposed with free days.  The member for South Shields commented “that a race was to be run in the next few days on some obscure racecourse where the prize was to be £27,000 [the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot!]”.   He continued “The Government had better get a horse from the National Stud…chose the right jockey and they should be able to get a great part of this sum of money”.    So although the solution from 1952 may be somewhat fanciful the problem remains the same – how to fund the country’s museums and art galleries,  keep them open and ensure that we don’t “pile up the treasures of civilisation and keep them so that they cannot be seen”.   Tenby Museum and Art Gallery is an independent charitable trust and relies on its admission charge to keep the museum open all year round, keep the displays fresh and interesting, provide lots for everyone to do and also to conserve those artefacts and records which are ‘treasures’.   We may not enter a horse at Ascot (or even Ffos Las) but perhaps we’ll consider a sponsored entry for the Boxing Day Swim!

*Daily Telegraph and Morning Post, Tuesday July 15th, 1952