National Museums: To Charge or not to charge?

JEL Classification H20 and H40

John W. O'Hagan

Department of Economics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland


This paper looks at the arguments for and against admission charges to national museums and provides some new evidence relating to the effects of charges. This debate is set in the context of the policy objective of access: the vast majority of the population do not attend national museums and evidence on this and on the socio-economic composition of those who do attend is presented for Ireland.


This paper draws heavily on on Access and Admission Charges to Museums: A Case-Study of the National Museum, a paper presented to the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland, 20th January 1994 by the author and Christopher Duffy. Helpful comments from Rosemary Clarke, Alan Peacock, Ruth Towse and many others are gratefully acknowledged and thanks are extended to the staff of the National Museum of Ireland and Trinity College Dublin Library for providing much of the data upon which the tables are based.