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Entry as a Priviledge


The British Museum


The Main Entrance the British Museum by Sir Robert Smirke.

'crowded and incommodated by the intrusion of great numbers whose station and education make them no proper judge of statuary or painting and who were made idle and tumultuous by the appearance of the show.'

Exhibition of contemporary art 1760 Strand organised as the first free exhibition.. '


British museum Guided tour 1784:

'We began to move pretty fast ... I asked .. whether there was none to inform us what the curiositiees were?.. '

'What, would you have me tell you everything in the Museum? How is it possible? Besides, are not the names written upon many of them?'

In about 30 minutes we finished our silent journey through this princely mansion...'

1784 William Hutton quoted from Hudson, K 'A Social History Of Museums'' Mcmillan 1975


'This is to Inform the Publish that being tired out with the insolence of the common people, who I indulged within sight of my museum, I am now come to the resolution of refusing admittance to the love classes except they come provided  with a ticket to any orderly Gentleman orlady of my acquaintances.' Sir Aston Lever re Alkrington Hall near Manchester

Nation History Museum, Leicester Square

Museum entry was mainly for the gentry-the educated classes. Only about 10,000 people visited the British Museum and visits had to be organised in advance by ticket. the BM resaved thwsdayst and Fridays for select groups. No more than 10 tickets we to be issued an hour. Entry was, however, free an account of Sir Hans Sloane's wishes and the of fronton that the visitors 'consisted chiefly of Mechanics and persons of the lower classes, few of whom would probably have been at any expense to satisfy here curiousity'



Page updated 17th March 2010

Lecture by Kevin Flude - prepared for 'Creative Practice in Narrative Environments'

MA course at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design & developed for University College Worcester

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