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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

British Museum Mulls Entry Fee

LONDON -- The British Museum may have to end its policy of free admission because of a grave financial crisis and a need to spend huge sums on converting almost half of its vast premises.

The government is cutting ?1 million ($1.6 million dollars) a year from the world-famous museum's budget, which was ?32.1 million in 1996, explained Andrew Hamilton, the museum's head of public relations. And this comes at a time when the British Museum is on the verge of suffering a large loss of revenue, when the British Library, which pays an annual rent of ?3.5 million, moves to new premises in 1998.

To convert the premises which the Library occupies -- 40 to 50 percent of the total museum space -- ?160 million would be required, and the British Museum is far short of raising this.

"We will have to carefully consider the admission charge," for the 6.2 million visitors who come every year to admire its treasures, Hamilton said.