Letter: Museum charges

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Museum charges

Sir: Any government that tolerates de facto, through the erosion of museum funding (leading article, 1 December), the imposition of entry charges, should be aware that it invites direct comparison with its 18th and 19th-century predecessors. It proposes to rewrite the will of those idealistic and public-spirited earlier generations, expressed in the principle of free public access, in the name of our present society that prides itself on its more democratic principles.

The high reputation of British art internationally follows a period of over 200 years of free admission to some of the world's greatest collections - not for leisure or recreation but for real study, often of individual works, in concentrated short visits.

All artists can testify passionately to the importance of these encounters. They give contemporary visual culture here a particular and subtle aesthetic awareness. How could any government, without shame, allow this inheritance to be lost?

CHRISTOPHER Le BRUN; RICHARD DEACON; RITA DONAGH; ANTONY GORMLEY; MAGGI HAMBLING; RICHARD HAMILTON; PATRICK HERON; DAVID HOCKNEY; ALLEN JONES; ANISH KAPOOR; R B KITAJ; RICHARD PATTERSON; FIONA RAE; PAULA REGO; BRIDGET RILEY; EUAN UGLOW; BILL WOODROW

London SE5

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