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Fifth anniversary of museum free admissions

04 December 2006

Nearly 30 million extra visitors to England's museums and galleries have been made since entry fees were stopped five years ago.

'These are inspirational figures,' said Tessa Jowell, Culture Secretary. 'They completely vindicate our decision to put free admission at the heart of our cultural policy since 1997.'

There has been an 83 per cent increase in total visits to formerly charging museums since 2001, representing an extra 6.5 million visits in 2006, making it the best year ever for admissions nationally.

To celebrate the anniversary, the Worshipful Mayor Councillor Tim Ahern visited some Natural History Museum highlights with the Museum's Director Mike Dixon.

They took a tour that passed the famous Diplodocus dinosaur that greets you as you enter the Museum. Diplodocus lived 150 million years ago and, at 26 metres, was one of the longest land animals ever to live.

The giant sequoia tree trunk was next on the tour, it stands at the very top of the Central Hall. These trees are the biggest living things and this one was over 1,300 years old when it was felled.

Lastly, Mike Dixon and the Mayor marvelled at the awesome life-size model of a blue whale suspended from the Mammals and Blue Whale gallery ceiling. It's the largest creature ever, bigger even than the dinosaurs, and is still alive today.

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