The International Slavery Museum - one of three Liverpool museums now with free entry. © Jon Pratty / 24Hour Museum
The Museum of Liverpool, the International Slavery Museum and the University of Liverpool's Victoria Gallery and Museum have been added to the list of museums and galleries that will give free access to their permanent collections.
The three museums - (the new Liverpool Museum is due to open in 2010) join several others in the 2008 Capital of Culture, including Tate Liverpool and The Walker Art Gallery, which have been flying the flag for free admission for several years.
Introduced in 2001, the Government's free access policy for England's 'national museums' is a result of increased investment together with tax changes that have allowed participating institutions to reclaim the VAT they pay on their running costs.
The scheme has resulted in soaring visitor numbers to our national museums and now appears to have cross-party support, with the Conservative shadow Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt recently pledging his party's backing for the initiative.
"This is a fantastic achievement, both for the year in which Liverpool is European Capital of Culture and for taking forward the Government's cultural commitment to engage more people, schools and communities," said Culture Secretary Andy Burnham.
"Recent figures show that visits to the former charging museums in England have doubled since the introduction of free access in December 2001."
Free access to the permanent collections at DCMS-sponsored charging museums was introduced for children in April 1999, for over-60s in April 2000 and for all (universal free access) in December 2001.