Letter: Museum charges: a `moribund tax' on national culture

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The Independent Online
SSir: Your editorial on our "blooming and booming" museums concludes that there is no place for entrance charges in national institutions "belonging to us all". They certainly do belong to us all, but I no longer think that charges can be ruled out. They should be looked at on a case by case basis. Go to the "booming" British Museum, National Gallery and Tate Gallery during the summer, or on any weekend, and they are packed to bursting point. On some weekends, the Tate has to close its doors. The heat and humidity are often unbearable - and one dreads to think what the cumulative effect of human pollution will be on the artworks in years to come.

With such institutions, there is a clear case for charging employed people during peak hours, and then using the extra revenue to extend opening hours into the evenings (in Paris, national museums are often open until 10pm). This way, you would spread the load.

If charges are ruled out, an institution like the British Museum will find it hard to stop itself being the cultural equivalent of the M25.

JAMES HALL

London SW11

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