Admission fee leads to drop in visitors to NMM - Museums Association

Admission fee leads to drop in visitors to NMM

One-third drop in visitors following introduction of a £10 entrance charge
Patrick Steel
Figures released last month by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport reveal that the National Maritime Museum (NMM) saw a drastic drop in visits following the introduction of charges for the Royal Observatory’s Meridian Line in March.

The figures show a total of 470,800 people visited the NMM in the first quarter of this financial year, compared with 706,952 people over the same period in 2010. A £10 entrance fee was introduced for the Meridian Line courtyard and Flamsteed House galleries on 8 March.

A spokesman for the museum said: “Our visitor figures include the National Maritime Museum, Queen’s House and Royal Observatory Greenwich. In March, we introduced an adult admission charge for part of the Royal Observatory site and, as we anticipated, this has had some impact on visitor numbers.

“In addition to this, the construction of the venue for the Olympic equestrian test event in Greenwich Park, which began in May, temporarily made access to the observatory more difficult, and may also have had some negative effect.” Revenue from the entrance fee over the same period came to £521,000, after the deduction of VAT.

Gloucester City Council’s Folk Museum has also suffered a fall in visitor numbers since introducing charges in April. The museum welcomed 10,647 visitors between 1 April and 8 September, compared with 13,206 visitors over the same period last year. The museum’s income, however, has risen by £21,722.52.

The Russell Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in Bournemouth finishes a pilot charging scheme this month, which has involved the museum charging a £5 entrance fee since 6 July. The museum would not reveal the preliminary results of the pilot, but Museums Journal understands that visitor numbers have fallen over the period.

VisitEngland’s Annual Visitor Attractions Survey found that admissions across England rose by 3% in 2010. Underlying this was a 6% increase for free attractions, compared with a 1% decline for charging attractions.

New museums

Visitors have been flocking to new museums. The National Museum of Scotland has attracted 551,588 visitors since reopening on 29 July, while the Museum of Liverpool has welcomed more than 400,000 visitors since opening on 19 July.

The City Museum and Art Gallery in Gloucester has been visited by 5,866 people since reopening this summer – 4.8% up on the same period last year, despite the introduction of a £3 entrance charge.

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