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Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Museums set dates for free entry
New V&A director Mark Jones
Mark Jones: Entry news came on first day as director
London's Victoria and Albert Museum is to scrap entry fees from 22 November, with the Science Museum following suit on 1 December.

The V&A's announcement was made by Mark Jones on his first morning as director of the museum, and on the first day of Museums and Galleries month.

The scrapping of the entry fee will take place on the same day as the opening of the V&A's new 31m British Galleries, which have been five years in development.

Victoria and Albert museum
V&A: New galleries will also open in November
The Science Museum has become the second national institution to announce the date from which entry will be free.

The moves come after the government announced changes in the law to allow museums and galleries to get rid of fees.

March's Budget announcement was the culmination of a government policy to give the public better access to places like the V&A, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.

The V&A's current adult entrance price is 5, with the Science Museum charging 7.95. The V&A will also be free on every Wednesday in May.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith called the announcements "very good news".

Compensation

"The government is determined to ensure that our national museums and galleries are free for all visitors," he said.

Science Museum
The Science Museum currently charges 7.95
"Recent tax changes in the Budget have made that possible, but only if the charging museums wish it to be so."

The changes mean museums can scrap charges but retain their business status and therefore reclaim VAT on things they buy.

Other museums and galleries still deciding if and when they will become free include the Natural History Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the National Maritime Museum and the Museum of London.

A spokeswoman for the Museum of London said they were waiting to see how much extra government funding will be offered as compensation.

'Important'

The V&A's Mark Jones, former director of the National Museums of Scotland, said: "The V&A's Trustees have eagerly welcomed the Government's measures to enable free entry to all museums."

He said the new British Galleries, featuring 15 galleries with 3,000 objects, are the most important project at the museum for 50 years and would provide the world's most comprehensive collection of British design.

It aims to exhibit four centuries of British design, from the reign of Henry VIII to Queen Victoria.

"It will be wonderful to be able to open them to everyone free of charge," Mr Jones said.

Mr Jones joins the museum as its fortunes are improving - last year's visitor figures increased by 11% to 1.3 million.

See also:

07 Mar 01 | Budget 2001
Museums and galleries will be free
01 Apr 01 | Wales
Museums launch free entry
03 Apr 00 | UK
Museum visits for 1
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