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Museum and Gallery Admissions

Volume 493: debated on Monday 8 June 2009

8. What recent assessment he has made of the effect on visitor numbers of free access to national museums and galleries; and if he will make a statement. (278195)

Visits to national museums and galleries are at a record high for the third year running, with more than 40.3 million such visits recorded last year. Since the Government introduced the free admission policy in 2001, visits to previously charging museums have more than doubled, from 7.2 million eight years ago to 16 million last year.

On Friday my grandson Charlie enjoyed the delights of Bolton’s excellent free aquarium and museum. Does my hon. Friend agree that the pleasure of museums should not be confined just to rich children, any more than membership of this House should be confined to rich adults?

I could not agree more. It is wonderful to see grandchildren enjoying the museums that the Government have made free; I have taken my own grandchildren to them.