Royal Observatory courtyard, National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum to charge for Meridian Line

Rebecca Atkinson, 26.01.2011
Visitors will pay £10 to see Royal Observatory's Meridian Line
The National Maritime Museum (NMM) in Greenwich will be introducing charges to some of its sites following a fourfold increase in visitors over the past 10 years.

From 8 March, adults will pay a £10 annual entry fee (£7.50 concession rate) for the Meridian Line courtyard and the Flamsteed House galleries around the courtyard.

However, the Astronomy Centre and its three interactive galleries will remain free, as will the national collection in the NMM and Queens House.

The Meridian Line courtyard has offered free entry to visitors since 2001. Since then, the number of people who come to straddle the eastern and western hemispheres has increased fourfold to 1.6m a year.

A spokeswoman for the museum said the decision, which was made by the NMM Trustees in approval with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), reflects the need to maintain the site, which has experienced “wear and tear” as a result of higher visitor numbers.

Lord Sterling, chairman of the board of trustees of the NMM, said: "After thorough deliberation, trustees have taken the decision that the only responsible and practical course of action we can adopt is to return to charging for the Meridian Line and Flamsteed House at the Royal Observatory."

The museum is also involved in ongoing developments to update all of its galleries and facilities over a 10-year period.

In his keynote speech as secretary of state back in May, Jeremy Hunt expressed the coalition government’s commitment to free entry to national museums. This was confirmed in October’s comprehensive spending review.

The museum’s spokeswoman said the introduction of charges does not go against the spirit of this commitment, because only parts of the site will carry an entry fee.

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