Free Museums in France
Here in our nation’s capital, we’re used to waltzing into most of our museums free of charge, but we were glad to hear that France has made plans to follow suit. Starting in January, 14 of France’s museums will drop their admission prices for six months in an effort to draw a wider, more varied audience. Three of the museums will be in Paris: Guimet, (Asian art); Cluny, (medieval treasures); and Arts et Metiers, (scientific inventions).
The new French President Nicholas Sarkozy introduced the idea as part of his election platform, but it has been met with plenty of opposition. The Agence-France Presse reported that Francoise Benhamou, a Sorbonne economics professor who specializes in the financing of culture, was skeptical about the plan. She points to the fact that plenty of French visitors already take advantage of the free evenings or open-house days offered at the museums, and that most of the people benefiting from the free admission would be foreign tourists who don’t pay taxes.
Benhamou argues that instead of thrusting open the doors to the museum, new pricing programs for the young, unemployed, or frequent visitors should be created instead. That, and creating new educational programs for young people, she says, will help create lifelong museumgoers.
As for us, we’re interested to see how the six-month plan works out. What do you think?
Image: “Deux grues au bord d’un étang” from the Guimet Museum
- Nat Geo Expeditions