Thursday, April 26, 2012

Museums Should Be Available To Everyone

Earlier, a friend and I were having a conversation about the absurd fee some museums in our country demand to their visitors. That conversation took me back to my difficult years during college when a student ID is not enough to warrant you a free entrance to a museum that your Art Studies professor asked you to visit. It didn't help that the museum barely, if at all, receives visitors probably due to the fact that 1) it was too small and 2) unpopular.

I hated going to museums, libraries or government parks that required me to shell out exorbitant amount of money because young as I was, I believed that it was our government's responsibility to provide these services to its people for free (that, and the fact that I and friends are supporting my remaining years of college education). Or, if we're going to pay, at least let it be minimal.

Past forward to today. My friend was thinking of organizing a museum-hopping activity until I dropped to her the bad news that Ayala Museum does not have a pocket-friendly entrance fee.

Although I've always wanted to visit and see the collections and exhibits Ayala Museum has to offer, the steep entrance fee I have to pay stops me every time. Yes I can pay, but I choose not to. Museums should be available to everyone: rich, middle class or poor. If they can't absolutely provide it to everyone for free then at least reduce the entrance fee so they can still afford it. I don't even get it why fee for higher floor galleries are more expensive.

Remember, only a small percentage of the population are wealthy, the rest are poor.

When in out of town trips, I always make it a point to visit the local museum. I am happy to report that while they may not always be free, the entrance fee that these local museums ask are very fair. I never hesitate to pay 10, 20 or 50 pesos to get in because these are provincial museums that I doubt receive any sponshorship from well known companies or ad-giving bodies. Small though the museums, they are neat and well-maintained. I understand that maintaining a museum is not exactly cheap but there are other ways.

I tell you, if you want to encourage more people to visit a local museum, do it in a way that 90% of the population can have access to it. Minsan kasi, sila na ngang mga cultured, sila pa ang laging nakakapunta sa museums.

At least National Museum's Sunday free admission policy is still in effect. I am proud to say that I highly benefited from this policy back in college. I used to go at National Museum alone just to check out new collections and everytime I leave I always remember how great that felt. Imagine, I saw the Spoliarium (which every Filipino must see) for free!

Visiting a museum should be like going to school, you come out armed with more knowledge than ever and deeper understanding and appreciation of your country (or the world) than you had before.

I'm sure there are a lot of kids (and parents) out there who would love to spend a day in the museum but just don't have the moolah to get in one. Let us not take away the joy of being inside a museum from them. Let them have their own museum stories to tell in the future. Good stories, hopefully.

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