Showing results 1 - 12 of 17 for the tag: Admission charges.

September 12, 2013

The significance of declining visitor numbers at the New Acropolis Museum

Posted at 1:38 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

The author of this piece has, I suspect, taken a deliberately provocative approach to the subject matter. After all, magazine editors like nothing more than articles that stir up a heated discussion about a subject.

It does raise some interesting points though. Since its opening year, the visitor numbers at the New Acropolis Museum have declined. I believe that this is down to a variety of factors. Firstly, any new facility (whatever it is – shops, museums, hotels) tends to get an initial rush of interest – because of the fact that it is new. People rush to it, wanting to see it – particularly if the construction process has been going on for some time (works relating to the building of a new museum at the Acropolis Museum site had been underway since before 2000) and if it has made the headlines (which the New Acropolis Museum managed to on many occasions, regularly attracting controversy). After this initial honeymoon period, visitor numbers are likely to decline. Once people have visited something once, they are not so desperate to visit it again (afterall, there are many more things to see in the world, that they have not yet seen). Museums around the world regularly try to attract people back with temporary exhibitions, programmes of lectures & re-organisation of their exhibits, putting some in storage and others on display.

Secondly, there was an increase in admission charges – the museum initial made a very minimal charge, which later increased – this was always a planed decision.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly from the perspective of people in Greece today, is the financial crisis. The museum could not have opened at a worse time, as during the period immediately afterwards, the financial storm clouds that had been brewing on the horizon unleashed wave after wave of bad news for Greece. Budget cutbacks meant that there were reductions in the amount that could be spent on publicity for the new museum. People saw pictures of rioters ripping apart the cobbles of Syntagma & tear gas grenades being thrown by police in Exarchia and may well have re-considered their trips to Greece that they were planning. Still more may have cancelled the days in Athens at the start or end of their trip & instead just passed through the airport, taking a more direct route to the peace of the islands. Strikes have plagued many of Greece’s museums and archaeological sites & featured regularly on the news around the world. Although the New Acropolis Museum has been largely unaffected, most people who see pictures of picketed gates to museums are not aware of this. The financial crisis has also had in impact on the economies of many other countries outside of Greece. Across Europe & further afield, unemployment has risen, along with prices of food and petrol, while wages have stagnated. For many people with less money available, holidays abroad, particularly short weekend breaks are something that they have cut back on. Speaking from the point of view of someone in the UK, the current GBP:EUR exchange rates make Greece a far more expensive place to visit than it ever used to be, No longer does Athens feel like a cheap destination, but instead has prices comparable to London.

However, notwithstanding all the above provisos, the New Acropolis Museum has seen a decline in its visitor numbers over time & they are lower than some predictions hoped they would be.

Perhaps more importantly (maybe I should have mentioned this at the start of the article), I have always found arguments (from the British Museum) relating to visitor numbers to be a red-herring, distracting people from the actual discussion in hand. If maximising the number of people that see an artefact is of primary importance, then perhaps everything should be shipped to Beijing or Mumbai? But then again, should visitor number be used to over-ride compelling moral arguments for the return of the sculptures?

At past press conferences at the New Acropolis Museum, Professor Pandermalis has made no secret of the decline in numbers. He has in fact emphasised them with the hope that at least some of the journalists present might write articles in a way that inspires people to come & visit the museum. He has also outlined strategies for how they hope to increase the numbers over time.

From:
Museums Journal

Greek Drama at the New Acropolis Museum
James Beresford
Issue 113/09, P17, 01.09.13

Opening to international fanfare in June 2009, the €129m New Acropolis Museum has become the embodiment of the Greek desire to see Elgin’s marble trophies returned to Athens. However, the paying public has been less-than-impressed with the museum, which has failed to attract the visitor numbers that were predicted.

In 2006 journalist Tom Flynn noted: “The old Acropolis Museum currently attracts around 1.5 million people each year. The Greeks hope their New Acropolis Museum will at least double that figure.”
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March 12, 2013

The British museum, Free admission & the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 2:20 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

I have written a number of times here about the issue of museum admission charges. Because of the nature of most of these articles, it can come across as being critical of any museum that does not charge. This is not the case at all though & I agree with much of the content of the article posted below.

So – lets get it straight. Free museums are great.

However, perhaps we need to accept that not all museums have to be free. We have free museums in Britain, because that is the way that we do things & how our government has chosen to spend our taxes (because, without this, very few of them would still be free). This means, that we should not therefore refer in a critical way to museums that charge, as though they are somehow less worthy.

This all gets back to the arguments over the Parthenon Marbles. The British Museum has often stated something along the lines of “the collection was legally acquired from Lord Elgin and is accessible, free of charge, to millions of visitors”.

I think it is critical to look at this statement carefully bit by bit – afterall, the number of times the British Museum has trotted it out, we assume that some thought must have gone into it.

So – we have part 1: “legally acquired from Lord Elgin”. Clearly this is true, because Elgin went through a process of selling them to the British Government (although, perhaps this ought to be described as transferring ownership in exchange for cancellation of debts, as this is closer to what happened). This statement is somewhat economical with the truth – it does not delve further back, into how the Marbles came into Elgin’s ownership & the legality / legitimacy of this procedure. Furthermore, if one accepts that Elgin did not acquire them entirely legitimately, then in effect, Britain was involved in the purchase of stolen goods.

Part 2: “Accessible, free of charge”. This argument is put forward as though it is clearly a positive point, but relatively little discussion has been made on why this should be the case. We must assume that this part of the statement refers to the fact that the Acropolis Museum, in common with most Greek archaeological sites & museums has an admission charge – although, we should also note that the charge for the museum is relatively minimal – few people would be put off visiting it purely by the admission charge. This admission charge helps to fund the building & the care of the collection within it. Bearing in mind the current economic situation in Greece, I don’t think anyone would suggest that they should be spending their public funds on removing their museum admission charges.

Part 3: “to millions of visitors”. Once again, an argument is put forward without clear reasoning why the point being made is beneficial. Surely if maximising the numbers who could see it were the most important factor, then relocating the marbles to Beijing or Mumbai should be considered? Furthermore, this does not stop to consider the fact that without admission charges, the British Museum no longer has a clear idea of visitor numbers. The give an approximate total count, but because anyone can wander in & out of a building with multiple entrances, we do not really know the nature of these visits. One thing I can guarantee, is that not all these people are there to see the Marbles – there are people using the route through as a shortcut on a rainy day, meeting someone at the cafe in the Great Court, visiting a temporary exhibition, or just looking at another specific part of the museums collection. On the other hand, we could assume that for the majority of visitors to the Acropolis Museum, seeing the sculptures from the Acropolis is the main focus of their visit. From this, we can only conclude that using visitor numbers as an argument is at best misleading, without more detail to back it up.

So – free admission is great, but is it really a justification for hanging onto the Parthenon Marbles? I don’t think so.

From:
Scotsman

Monday 11 March 2013
Tiffany Jenkins
Free museums – a fine example to set the world
Published on Saturday 9 March 2013 00:00

AS MUCH as it pains me to say it, the commitment to free entry to national museums, instigated by the last Labour government, is one policy that I not only support, but think was enlightened.

Back in 1997, Labour argued that in order to broaden the range of people visiting museums and galleries, there should be no charge to visit. Up until then, entrance fees could set you back between £5-10 a person, which adds up, especially if you want to take the whole family, or go more than once, which, given that most of the institutions are large and extensive, is likely.
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February 27, 2013

Is free admission to museums & galleries in the UK sacrosanct?

Posted at 8:44 am in British Museum

This subject seems to crop up on a regular basis – is the government’s money better spent on other things rather than free admission to large numbers of museums & galleries? While I enjoy the free use that the current subsidies give, one has to wonder if the overall visitor experience might be improved if there was some level of charging, which would help to reduce over-crowding. When referring to the Parthenon Sculptures, the British Museum regularly proclaims that they can be viewed there free of charge – something that seems to be taken as beneficial (& as a criticism of the fact that the Acropolis museum has an entry fee), without any meaningful debate on the subject. This free access relies heavily on government subsidies – something that the museum is less willing to shout about.

From:
Independent

Dominic Lawson
Monday 25 February 2013
Why is free admission to art galleries and museums sacrosanct, when free swimming is not?

Even in a time of straitened national finances, it never pays to underestimate the awesome power of the arts lobby in Britain

What do you imagine would be an easier subsidy to defend at a time of straitened national finances – free swimming in public baths for children and pensioners; or free entry for all into metropolitan museums of fine art? If I didn’t know otherwise, I would have guessed the former. This, however, would be to underestimate the awesome power of the arts lobby in Britain.
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June 13, 2012

The New Acropolis Museum – a self-funded exemplar to other Greek museums

Posted at 5:47 pm in New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum is unusual for a Greek state owned museum – in that it keeps the money it receives from ticket sales & its shop etc – and uses these funds to entirely finance its running costs, ensuring that it does not at present require any aid from the cash starved Greek state.

You can find out more about this from this video on Bloomberg news.

May 1, 2012

How the Greek state manages to pay no subsidies to the New Acropolis Museum

Posted at 1:01 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

In part, Greece’s financial crisis is connected to the huge size of the country’s state sector – many departments that in other countries are private operations receive large government subsidies. However, the New Acropolis Museum, whilst it is run by the Greek government, is managed independently – and surprisingly (to many) successfully. Perhaps other departments should take more note of the example it sets.

Perhaps more could also be made of this, when the British Museum re-iterates its regular point that the Elgin Marbles are seen there free of charge. Certainly, the museum is free to visit, but it is heavily funded by money from British tax payers – something that is starting to look increasingly problematic as all government spending in the UK is cut back.

From:
Bloomberg

Economic Lessons From the Greek Acropolis
By Marc Champion Apr 30, 2012 5:18 PM GMT

Greece is in the state it’s in because the government had its fingers in industries long since privatized elsewhere; it spent and borrowed recklessly; it failed to collect taxes; and it couldn’t pay when the music stopped on the global economy.

So you’d think the new Acropolis Museum, a project of great national pride that opened in 2009 as the crisis struck, would be in dire straits as the government cuts back under orders from its international creditors. Not so, because the museum takes zero funds from the state to fund its operations.
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April 18, 2012

Free admission to the New Acropolis Museum today for International Monuments Day

Posted at 8:06 am in Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum

A reminder, that today, there will be free admission to most state owned museums & archaeological sites in Greece, because it is International Monuments Day. This is celebrated on April 18th every year.

There are also a number of other days on which admission is free – have a look at the list here.

March 29, 2012

Is it really of benefit to the UK culture sector to have free museum admission?

Posted at 12:49 pm in British Museum

Despite cutbacks across most government spending, free admission to museums seems to be treated as sacrosanct. Boasts are often made by the British Museum, that only there, can the Elgin Marbles be seen free of charge, but little consideration seems to be given to ho this affects the UK culture sector as a whole.

From:
Independent

Museums slash staff and opening hours after ‘devastating’ cuts
Of the 140 museums surveyed, 22 per cent are reducing their opening hours, and 30 per cent are cutting education staff
By Rob Sharp , Arts Correspondent

A fifth of British museums have been hit with “devastating” budget cuts of more than 25 per cent, according to the first wide-ranging survey of the sector since the Coalition’s Comprehensive Spending Review last year.

The cuts have had an impact on opening hours, public events and staffing, the Museums Association says in its report on 140 museums across the country, published today.
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January 31, 2012

A reintroduction to the New Acropolis Museum two years on

Posted at 1:57 pm in New Acropolis Museum

Two years on from the opening of the New Acropolis Museum, it is still the most popular attraction in Athens, but ticket prices are rising, as the initial subsidies are gradually removed. The museum has been a resounding success story for Greece – advertising an entirely different image of the country from the typical sun washed beaches of the islands, or the protests associated with the financial crisis.

From:
Kathimerini (English edition)

Tuesday June 21, 2011
The Acropolis Museum: A reintroduction
Despite chaos in the surrounding area, organizers are busy preparing its birthday celebrations
By Iota Sykka

At 11 a.m. on Thursday, as the country was aboil with developing news on the political front, so was the area connecting Amalias Avenue with Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, as the double-parked tour coaches waiting for their passengers to come out of the Acropolis Museum were hiding the traffic lights.

The entire pedestrian area was in a state of absolute Greek pandemonium. The sightseeing train was packed with visitors, as were the nearby cafes next to the souvenir shops selling poor-quality copies of treasured antiquities. Street musicians contributed to the noise as well, while drivers flouted the no-car law up and down the pedestrianized walkway. Two years ago, when the city was feverish with the museum’s inauguration, such a state of affairs would have been unthinkable.
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October 27, 2011

Is it time to re-consider the importance of free museum admission

Posted at 1:30 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

In the face of UK public spending cutbacks, more & more people are questioning the free museum admission policy. Certainly, it is nice for everyone to be able to use them for free, but does this sometimes occur to the detriment of the visitor experience?

From:
Guardian

We need to start charging for museums and galleries again
Reintroducing entrance fees for the great collections should be a plank of government arts planning
Tristram Hunt
The Observer, Sunday 6 March 2011

The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent is, according to author AN Wilson, “the greatest museum in the world”. Its ceramics collection is rivalled only by the V&A, its Arnold Bennett archive is bettered only by the British Library and its Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasures is second only to the British Museum.

But while it is free to visit the V&A, the British Library and Museum, an entrance fee is set to be charged in Stoke. Across the country, eye-watering cuts to local authority budgets mean that councils are either closing museums or ratcheting up charges. Last week, artist Anish Kapoor accused the Tories of having a “castration complex” about the arts. Yet, in the midst of this, the teeming London museums continue to enjoy a state subsidy to retain free admission.
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January 14, 2011

Free admission and no deaccessioning – holy cows for Britain’s national museums?

Posted at 2:21 pm in British Museum

The British Museum regularly makes much of the fact that the Elgin Marbles in their collection can be seen free of charge – but never enters into a debate about whether this is really to everyone’s benefit or not. The admission to the Acropolis Museum for instance is set at a level that it is easily affordable to most, yet this is somehow automatically seen by the British Museum as a bad thing.

Brian Sewell is not someone who is generally seen as a friend of the campaign for reunification of the Parthenon Marbles looked in previous articles at what the price of free admission to museums is – and whether resources could be better utilised across the culture sector if charges were introduced.

He now looks further, at whether some deaccessioning should be allowed. Traditionally, the UK has had very strict laws in this regard compared to the US, but there are arguments for allowing museums to refine their collections & reduce the cost of storing worthless artefacts.

From:
Evening Standard

It’s time to sacrifice some sacred cows
By Brian Sewell
09.12.10

The great (but not necessarily good) artists who put themselves forward as spokesmen for their profession have this year been very loud in their objection to cuts in state funding for themselves, for galleries, museums and all other institutions of the “creative industries” in which their work is exhibited. To these august orators and signatories of open letters in the press, their art is a sacred cow never to be fed short rations, never to be slaughtered; to others, however, they — and never mind their art — are fat cats in feather beds, or pigs with snouts in troughs, and short rations must be borne by them as well as by the rest of us.

Both views have some merit but neither represents the truth. Those of us who hold the middle view see the nation’s crisis as one from which the arts must not be exempt — we cannot go on fiddling while Rome burns — but must survive it in a fitter state than now. Heaven-sent may not be quite the suitable term, but the crisis has brought us an unexpected opportunity for radical revision of the way we run and fund the arts and we should take advantage of it to think what has hitherto been quite unthinkable.
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November 11, 2010

Is having free admissions to museums more important than all else?

Posted at 1:57 pm in British Museum

The British Museum regularly props up its defence for the retention of the Elgin Marbles with the fact that the sculptures can be seen in their museum free of charge, without any real debate a to whether this is necessarily a universally good thing. As budgets for government spending are cut in the UK, more & more questions must be asked about whether these institutions should keep their free admission, or charge visitors (which doesn’t necessarily need to be a large amount).

From:
Evening Standard

British Museum reduces opening hours as budget cuts begin to bite
Louise Jury, Chief Arts Correspondent
30.09.10

The British Museum is to reduce its opening hours from January to cope with government budget cuts.

Late-night opening to the permanent collections will be axed on Thursdays and restricted to one evening a week — Fridays. Staff recruitment will be “significantly reduced”.
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September 29, 2009

The benefits (or otherwise) of free museum admission

Posted at 12:58 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

The British Museum makes much of the fact that the Elgin Marbles can be seen there free of charge, It remains unclear though whether this is really such a good thing as it is portrayed as being. Certainly, the museums are opened up to more people when they do not charge, but unless one lives within walking distance of them or is already in London, there are costs (sometimes significant) in getting to the museum in the first place. The focus on admission charges skims over any other questions about what the visitor experience is really like – is the cost everything? This is an argument that definitely has more than one side to it.

And finally – as many will probably have spotted, the headline of the article suggesting that its costs five Euros to view the Elgin Marbles in Athens is completely wrong. Not only is the actual admission charge for the New Acropolis Museum only one Euro. But the Parthenon Sculptures there are very definitely not the Elgin Marbles (this claim could possibly be made about those in the British Museum – but those remaining in Athens have never passed through Lord Elgin’s hands).

From:
Guardian

A fiver for the Elgin marbles, anyone?
Only in Britain are all the national museums and galleries free – it is time to show our gratitude
Ian Jack
Saturday 26 September 2009

Britain can still be a remarkably free country – free as in “goods and services provided without money changing hands”. Last week I went to see a doctor and a hospital consultant, got prescription drugs from a chemist, entered the British Museum and the National Gallery, travelled between all these people and places by bus and tube, and not once did my hand go into my pocket to retrieve anything more than a travel pass. Age (the travel pass) was only a minor cause of this free-ness. The rest of it – the close inspection of the Portland Vase at the museum, the sophisticated medical treatment, the special Corot to Monet exhibition in the gallery – would have been as free to a British citizen of any age, and the cultural part free to a citizen of any nationality. In this way British public taxation and private philanthropy have removed the financial barriers to the repair of both body and soul. This is perhaps a rather earnest perspective, to be disputed by the queues in A and E and people with no feeling for old vases, but there’s nothing like adjacent visits to a hospital and museum to make you feel the truth of it.
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