Europe’s Museums Free on May 14

On May 14th, 2005, all museums across Europe will open their doors and allow free entry to the public. French Culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres announced this spectacular event, which involves some 1,200 museums throughout Europe from London’s Tate and Tate Modern to the Museum of Carpets in Baku, Azerbaijan and the Museum of Mines in Aljustrel, Portugal. The free entry is what the French Culture minister described as the first “night of the museums”, a public celebration “organized around the theme of ‘light in the night’ which will be expressed in all its diversity -historic, artistic, scientific, spiritual and human”. All museums of visual art, popular culture, science, rural heritage and industry will be participating in the Saturday May 14th event starting at 7 pm (1700 GMT).

With this in mind, American artists and arts supporters should lobby US museums to follow the example of their European counterparts. What better way to involve communities in art than to throw open museum doors and invite people in for free. Holding such an event in the evening also makes it possible for working people to participate in the festivities with their families. What possible excuse could there be for not having a nationally coordinated day of free entry to all US museums? Why is it not possible for art museums to be free in the richest, most powerful country on earth? As of this writing, the US government has squandered more than $300 Billion on the Iraq war, and in May 2005 the US Congress approved an extra $82 billion dollars for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead of good schools, state-of-the-art hospitals and libraries, up to date postal facilities, and yes… free art museums, the US government has opted instead for endless war and military occupation. Surely we can do better than this.

Comments are closed.