Berliner Schloss

Berliner Schloss Museums to Offer Free Admission to Permanent Collections After Opening

Monika Grütters, Germany’s minister of culture, has approved a three-year free admission policy for the permanent collections at the Berliner Schloss complex of museums after they open in 2019, writes Catherine Hickley of the Art Newspaper. It is hoped that the move, which is supported by the country’s Christian Democratic Union and Social Democratic Party, will attract foreign tourists and encourage native Berliners to visit the complex on a regular basis.

Germany’s federal government oversees just a fraction of its museums—most large institutions are operated by the country’s states, and virtually all of them require an admission fee. But talks of erasing fees are growing, and some museums have already begun embracing such a policy.

Eckart Köhne, president of the German Museums Association, said: “I think permanent exhibitions should be free . . . but there is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution. It would be much harder for science museums or natural history museums to make up the shortfalls.” Though money brought in through ticketing rarely covers all of a museum’s costs, it is nonetheless a revenue stream that, if stopped, would have to be replaced by public support. “The problem is that public funds are sometimes subject to cuts,” says Köhne. “And once you have abolished an admissions charge, it would be very damaging to reintroduce it.”

At the moment, however, free admission is working. Stuttgart’s Landesmuseum Württemberg, for instance, made an announcement in November 2017 that it had brought in close to $200,000 via membership initiatives in order to allow free entry to all of its exhibitions. The number of visitors to the museum has increased significantly as well: whereas there were 1,400 visitors to the institution in January 2017, there were 7,000 in January 2018.