Today the Natural History Museum welcomed its 25 millionth visitor since free entry began in December 2001.
Stuart May aged 3
The May family were on holiday in London from Livermore, California. They received free admission to the Butterfly Jungle exhibition, as well as a cuddly orang-utan and remote-controlled flapping falcon.
Three-year-old Stuart was most excited about coming to see the Dinosaurs, but Madeleine, aged 6 and pictured above, loved the big animals in the Whale Hall, particularly the elephants.
The number of visitors to the Museum has more than doubled in this time despite only 45 % Britons knowing that entry is free.
The admission charge was removed by Trustees with financial support from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Dr Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, comments, ‘Since general admission charges were removed seven-and–a-half years ago, we have seen our visitor figures more than double, reaching 3.7million last year. But it is astonishing that so many people don’t know we are free.’
Natalie May aged 3
‘With the summer holidays fast approaching, families will be looking for ways to entertain their children, but they may well be under increasing financial strain due to the economic downturn.’
‘A visit to the Natural History Museum or other free, national museums, can be a truly inspirational experience, taking people away from the realities of every day life for the day.’
The Museum is famous for its beautiful Victorian building with galleries ranging from the Central Hall and Mammals, home to the iconic Diplodocus and blue whale, to the Earth Galleries and Human Biology, all of which are free to visit.
The Museum is also a world-leading science research centre. The important specimen collections help scientists study current issues such as air quality, the impact of climate change on biodiversity, the causes of disease and the maintenance of delicate ecosystems around the world.
From September 2009, when the Darwin Centre opens, visitors will be able to explore the collections, interact with scientists and see science in action for themselves.