“Admission free”: These words are music to the ears of any fan of museum-browsing. One of the reasons why I love London is because I can take shelter from the rain in front of a Turner masterpiece or a 5,000-year old mummy. Recently I was strolling around in Covent Garden when I passed the London Transport Museum, which I had never visited before. I assumed it was free, and balked at the prices when I saw that for Adults tickets cost £15.00, and for Concessions £11.50. Under 18’s went free. Then it occurred to me…
That the age of 18 is a major threshold in life for many people around the world. Independence comes at a price. Nowhere is this more true than in the EU, where citizens can enter many museums, galleries, and historical sites in major European cities for free…until they reach the age of 18. In the UK, the cultural impact of turning 18 is less severe. Many national and regional museums are free for all, and the under-18 admissions system is rarely adopted. When it is, the good thing is that there is no discrimination between EU and non-EU citizens. I am lucky that I can still take shelter from the rain in the National Gallery and British Museum, but the shock I got at the London Transport Museum led me to think of more things I wish I had done (for free) way back then:
- Visited the London Transport Museum – I still miss the old routemasters, despite having almost been ‘lost’ in London once when I sprinted too slowly to catch the bus with my parent on it as it drove away.
- Visited the Rotunda Museum – one of the oldest purpose-built museums in the country, and the brainchild of William Smith, the man who drew the first nationwide geological map.
- Visited Rosslyn Chapel – of the Da Vinci Code fame. Its crypt, which has been sealed for centuries, is said to contain the head of Jesus Christ and the Holy Grail. You do have to go with adults though.
- Toured Penderyn Distillery – which led the revival of commercial whisky distilling in Wales in 2000.
- Attended race days – since I’m not one for betting anyway. And horses were my favourite animals.