Letter: Museum's entry charge dilemma

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The Independent Online
Sir: The British Museum "must not go down the path indicated by Mr Edwards", croaks Andreas Whittam Smith in his article (18 November) about my "trendy" report.

In fact, the "path" indicated in my report is not at all what Mr Whittam Smith says. What the report does say is that, given the projected deficit in the museum's budget and the prospective levels of government funding, the museum will have to choose between two broad options, both unpalatable:

(a) continuing with free admission at the cost of severe cuts in core activities, reduced opening hours and public services, an inability to maintain the building properly, minimal expenditure on acquisitions and the loss of perhaps one third of the staff, and

(b) funding what the Museum does and badly needs to do with the help of an admission charge which it would much prefer not to introduce and a smaller reduction in staff overheads.

On exhibiting the collections, my "evident disapproval" of what the museum does is more evident to Mr Whittam Smith than to me.

ANDREW EDWARDS

London SWl9

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