“I was shocked. I was carrying my sleeping son in a baby carrier,” an irate mother told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper after a recent visit to Abba – The Museum.
Officials at the museum insisted the woman pay 50 kronor ($7.60) to bring her infant son into the newly opened museum on Djurgården in Stockholm.
The situation was all the more unexpected as most museums in Stockholm don’t charge admission for children under the age of two, with some allowing children as old as six to enter without needing to pay.
When alerted to the situation, Abba museum CEO Mattias Hansson admitted the incident had been a “mistake”, before an off-the-cuff formulation of the museum’s policy muddied things further.
“We only require payment for children who can walk,” he told DN.
The notion that a toddler’s ability to walk would determine whether or not parents would be required to tack an extra 50 kronor on the already steep 195 kronor entry fee for adults, didn’t sit well with the mother whose predicament unleashed the controversy.
“That seems really strange. Some eight-month-old babies can walk, others are a year-and-a-half before they can walk,” she said.
Hansson admitted the museum’s policy might not be agreeable to everyone.
“I’m a father of three myself, and I’m probably would have been upset if I’d had to pay when my children were so young,” he said.
“But we’re not going to be strict about it. If someone claims a child can’t walk, they won’t pay; we’re not going to argue about it.”
Later on Tuesday, however, the Abba museum director changed his tune about toddler admission fees.
“We’ve now discussed and reviewed and tinkered about. From now on, we’ll have guaranteed free entry up until the day the child turns three,” he wrote in an email to DN.
By Wednesday, the museum had loosened its child entry policy further, with its website now stating that all children aged six and younger can now enter free of charge.
A spokeswoman for Abba – The Museum told The Local that the change is part of the still fledgling museum’s own growing pains.
“We’re a new museum, and sometimes we need to make adjustments based on what people tell us,” she said.
Attempts by The Local to reach museum CEO Hansson for comment were unsuccessful.