MUSEUM OF LONDON –
BECOMING JUSTANOTHER TYPICAL LONDON MUSEUM
Yesterday (Thursday 13th November 2014) saw me pay a visit to another museum which I have always enjoyed passing away my spare time, The Museum Of London.
I remember this museum from my youth and from my last visit just a few years ago. It was always a pleasure to visit. There was a clear route through the museum, which led you smoothly through the ages of London, from the times of there being nothing but a gentle little river, to the thriving metropolis we have today, in gentle historical steps. It’s only downfall was the lack of an in-house café, so you had to go outside to the nearby café for a cuppa.
On arrival at the museum yesterday, I was somewhat shocked to find the foyer and the entrance full of adverts advising me to get my ticket for the Sherlock Holmes exhibition, but with no indication as to the cost of these tickets. I soon found out why.
On passing this barrage of advertising, I found myself being ushered by ‘greeters’ towards a container not surprisingly like the one in the entrance to the British Museum (follow this link to see that visit), asking me to donate £5, without reminding me that admission to the museum was actually free, and a donation was not a requirement of admission.
On bypassing the entry begging-bowl (which now seems compulsory to many museums), I became shepherded to the information desk. As I knew that there had recently been a lot of rebuilding at this museum, I thought I ought to get a map. They were now charging £1 for a basic map of the museum, which was always free in the past. I also noticed that the children’s fun trails and history trails which also used to be free, and encouraged children to enjoy the museum, were also now being charged for, although they were little more that a photocopied sheet of A4 paper. I declined my map, deciding instead to rely on my memory of the layout.
I then enquired about a ticket for the Sherlock Holmes exhibition. I was informed that tickets for this exhibition on a totally fictional character even with the major sponsorship the exhibition receives from the major sponsors, were £12.55 each, but as I was clearly disabled, I would qualify for the concessionary price of ONLY £10.45. Another co-incidence. Just about the same as the exhibition prices at the British Museum. As I could not afford to throw away £10 I declined buying a ticket, and therefore missed a fictional exhibition. Sorry A.C. Doyle. I’ll just have to read the books again. I’ve still got most of them at home anyway.
After my discouraging visit to the information desk I headed out to the galleries.
I knew from experience that the exhibition started on a section about London before London. This section was still there, but with the other attractions (like Paddington Bear and noisy cartoons) it was very easily missed completely despite mediocre signage.
I followed the route around the ages of London, which had not changed as much as I thought it would have been, apart from there being a lot more dead-ends, meaning that you had to back-track over large areas of the exhibition, which, due to my mobility problems proved quite painful.
After a while, I felt tired and felt like a cup of tea. I soon came across the new pretty hi-tech café, which had hi-tech prices to go with it. It used exactly the same tricks as the ones at the British Museum. The cheapest tea was £2.50, once again the excuse was that it was loose-leaf tea. Not tea bags, and definitely not at acceptable prices. Even a cup of hot chocolate was £2.80, and a kid’s cup of hot chocolate was £2.40. Yes, the Museum of London has joined the ‘fleece the visitors’ club good and proper. I declined to purchase anything at these prices. This was the one museum which should have been able to include budget tea and coffee on their menu as ‘cockney tea’ or ‘instant east-end coffee’. I don’t know any real Cockneys (like me) who still use loose leaf tea, so how does this represent London?
I am now wondering whether all museums have joined this ‘fleece the visitor club’. I have now decided to start a separate blogsite dedicated to analysing just how tourists and visitors to London Attractions are being fleeced, to start with my visit to the British Museum and this visit.
I am now realising why tourists say that London is such an expensive town to visit, so keep your eyes on my other sites.
After failing to buy a drink, and after seeing the remainder of the galleries, many of which were unchanged from years back (other than by the route you take to visit them), I made my way back to the entrance via the toilets, which, due to limited signage were difficult to find from where I now was.
At the entrance I noticed another café, but the prices were just the same, so I went to one of my old haunts nearby, the Piccolo Café in Gresham Street. It’s cheaper, and much more welcoming.
Summary: This museum has jumped on the ‘fleece the visitor’ bandwagon. What starts out as an advertised free admission (which was poorly signed at the entrance) turns into a £25 visit per person very easily. (Breakdown: £5 Donation at entrance, £12 to see the exhibition, £8 for tea or coffee and a snack). Not to mention the not-so-cheap souvenir shop!
Take your own food and drink with you.
Teach the Museums a lesson, refuse to pay the extortionate charge for exhibitions, and let them know! There is still plenty more for you to see.
Don’t buy maps or guides. Either print one off of their website, or use your visit as a way to discover your way around. It can be more fun.
Keep an eye open for my new forthcoming blogsite on visiting attractions. At least this will be free.
Remember – Wherever there is a service monopoly, you will always be forced to pay more. The offer of free admission is only there to draw you in with your wallet (or purse). They are there to make a profit. In London, very little is genuinely free.
Get drinks and snacks at mainstream supermarkets before visiting any London attraction. You will save a fortune. In this case, there is a local Tesco at the nearby junction of Cheapside. This may not be the cheapest of supermarkets, but it is still a lot cheaper than the museum cafes.
The local area is full of other attractions, like St. Pauls Cathedral, the Old Bailey and the museum in St Bartholomew’s Hospital to mention a few, so be sure to time your visit to see as much as possible.
Remember, wherever crowds gather there may be criminals like pick-pockets and con-men around. Keep your money, cards and valuables secure. Do not keep them in back-packs.
Have a nice time, on a decent budget, and stay safe.