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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 18:59 GMT
Record crowds visit free museums
St Fagan's Castle at The Museum of Welsh Life
Crowds at St Fagans have swelled since charges were dropped
Museum and gallery admissions in Wales have soared by an average of 87% since the Welsh Assembly axed entry charges earlier this year.

Eight months since the assembly introduced its free-for-all policy, Culture Minister Jenny Randerson said the public response had been "overwhelming".
Jenny Randerson AM
Jenny Randerson's policy has drawn more visitors

Entry charges at all eight National Museum and Gallery sites in Wales were scrapped ahead of sites in England, where charges were dropped last week.

"We have been overwhelmed at how well the free-for-all policy has been received by the public in Wales and beyond," said Ms Randerson.

"I am also pleased that we have been able to put into practice our free admission policy several months before full free admission has been introduced in England.

"In October, the National Museum announced it had received over a million visitors for the first time in many years.

"Free admission was a long-held ambition for both the National Assembly and the NMGW. The number of visitors is now close to hitting the 1.1m mark."
The House of the Future at St Fagan's
Folk Museum: The House of the Future

A National Museums spokeswoman said the year on year attendance figures for St Fagan's between April-October 2001 were up by 118%, with visitor numbers rising by 300,000 from 254,000 to 550,000.

The largest year on year increases, though, have been at the Welsh Slate Museum at Llanberis, where attendances have risen by 77,000 to 124,000.

"Lots of people who are coming have not been here for some years, possibly since they were on a school trip," said a spokesman.

"We think that lifting a financial barrier has made the museums and galleries more accessible."

See also:

01 Apr 01 | Wales
Museums launch free entry
24 Jan 01 | Entertainment
'Free entry' to museums
03 Apr 01 | Health
Free prescriptions for under-25s
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