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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Britain's National Museums to Cut Fees

LONDON -- Britain's national museums and galleries should slash their entry fees to pounds 1 ($1.59), effective next year, the government said Monday.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith said he is writing to all the museum trustees to ask them to follow the new guidelines, which would cost the government an estimated pounds 7.1 million ($11.30 million) in lost admission fees.

The museums, however, are not bound by the government's request, although many are expected to honor it.

Currently some museums charge as much as pounds 7.50 ($11.90).

"I want to see the best of our culture and heritage made available to the greatest possible number, regardless of their income," Smith said. "For the first time in 20 years, affordable access to the best of our cultural heritage really will be available for the many, not the few."

The plans are the latest move by the Labour Party government to increase visitor numbers and boost access to the nation's archives.

Last year, at the government's request, national museums introduced free entry for children, and many dropped charges for the elderly on weekends.

The new standard pounds 1 ticket would become effective in September 2001. Museums that are currently free, however, would remain so. Free admission would also continue for children.

"A typical family, for example, will be able to spend a day together enjoying the wonders on display at the Natural History Museum for less than the price of hiring a video," Smith said.

The initiative was warmly welcomed by a leading arts charity, National Art Collections Fund, although it pledged to continue seeking free entry for all.

"We welcome the prospect of reduced admission charges as one more step on the road towards universal free entry," said Sir Nicholas Goodison, the fund's chairman.