Free museum entry to be abolished

The Swedish government is to abolish free entry to the country's museums at the beginning of the year, according to Swedish Radio's Kulturnytt.

The opposition Social Democrats have said they will fight against the reforms.

“We want to have culture policies for everyone and we noticed that this has been greatly appreciated,” said Margareta Israelsson, a Social Democrat member of the parliamentary culture committee.

The vice chairman of the committee, Cecilia Wikström (Liberal Party) said she was surprised by the announcement and asked for a full analysis. She pointed to research from the Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs, which found that 70% of Swedes were in favour of free museum entry.

Writing in Dagens Nyheter, 19 museum bosses have demanded that free entry remains in place.

The Alliance parties made clear before the election their view that free entry to museums should be abolished, but that young people up to the age of 19 should still be able to visit without charge.

Lars Amréus, head of the Historical Museum, is one of those who wants to keep free entry.

“We have doubled our visitor numbers. In 2005 we had 200,000 visitors, and before that we had 100,000 in a normal year.”

There have also been many new visitors, he said.

The government’s budget proposal will be made public on Monday, but the 21 state-run museums were informed of the move on Wednesday in a letter from the Culture Department.

“We have had part of the budget proposal and the only issue we have to comment on is that free entry will be abolished from 1st January 2007,” said the finance director at the Nordic Museum, Karin Englund.