(Above) The National Museum and Gallery of Wales, Cathays Park, Cardiff. © GFDL
The leader of National Museums Wales has called on the Welsh Assembly Government to join them in “doing everything we can” to keep admission prices free after a record year for venues across the country.
The seven museums in the group reported a record 1.64 million visits for the 2009-10 year, beating their target by almost 10% with a total only beaten in their Centenary year in 2007.
More than 250,000 people visited Swansea’s National Waterfront Museum, although the biggest rise was a rise of more than 200% at the National Wool useum in Dre-fach Felindre. The Big Pit: National Coal Museum and the National Slate Museum at Llanberis only missed out on record years because of severe weather in December and January.
“There is an even greater demand for our services, particularly from those who are most affected by the economic downturn,” said Director General Michael Houlihan, speaking 10 years after the Assembly Government agreed to fund free admission.
“It is estimated that the total economic impact of our seven Museums during 2008-09 supported 2,021 full time equivalent jobs and generated £83 million.
“With more than 400,000 formal and informal education visits, it also provides many routes into life-long learning and training, which are crucial at a time of recession.
“We know that difficult times are ahead and we have been working to ensure that we, and the Assembly Government, are united in doing everything we can to ensure that the free entry policy is maintained.”
The Welsh Minister for Heritage, Alun Ffred Jones, said the figures were “a reflection of the superb visitor offers” created by the group.
“National Museums Wales plays a key role in attracting visitors to Wales, and tourists make a huge contribution to the Welsh economy,” he observed.
“Free entry to the sites was introduced to enable everyone to enjoy the nation's rich heritage of arts, sciences and social and industrial history. The policy continues to be a remarkable success."