Sir: The statement by Dr Neil Chalmers, director of the Natural History Museum, that attendances there for 1997-98 are at "record" levels, has been reported in the media. They are indeed at a record level if his baseline is 1987-88, the year in which admission charges were introduced, but it represents a drop of 27 per cent below the attendance figure of 1986-87 when admission was still free. Visitor numbers at National Museums on Merseyside have fallen by 38 per cent in 1997-98, the first full year of charging, and the National Museums of Scotland by 34 per cent in the first four months. Only when admission charges are dropped in these, and other, museums, will attendances that are genuinely of record level again be achieved.
THE EARL OF CLANCARTY
and LORD FREYBERG
House of Lords, SW1Reuse content