Editorial: At all costs, our museums must remain free

Cost-saving plans are under consideration

It was only a matter of time. With budgets squeezed and belts ever tighter, the triumph of enlightened public subsidy that is Britain’s free-of-charge museums could not expect to escape attention.

Sure enough, with a “significant annual deficit” concentrating minds at the Science Museum Group, cost-saving plans are under consideration and fears of a fundamental change of policy are gaining ground.

Thus far, the group has said that none of its five institutions faces closure. Talk of charges is yet to be denied, though. And there is even speculation that attractions in the North – Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry, say – might introduce tickets, in order to keep the flagship Science Museum in London free.

Cost-saving? By all means. Efficiency? Of course. Admission charges? Absolutely not – neither in the capital nor anywhere else. Other ways to close the funding gap must be found.

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