"Why should museums and galleries close at 5.30?"

Museums Last week some time, I commented during a live chat at The Guardian's website about the future of museums. This week, a round-ups been posted and my comment has been included. Here we go:
"From advanced interactive technology the conversation turned to the most basic of museum fundamentals – opening times. Commenter feelinglistless made the point:

"Why should museums and galleries close at 5.30? Why is it only possible for most of us to only see things at the weekend (when often they're closed on Sundays too)?"

"It seems to me that regional museums and galleries suffer because they're not seen in the same light as theatres, cinemas, concerts, restaurants etc in terms of a destination for free time or entertainment," he added.

Tapping into a market of working professionals who leave work as the museum doors close could not only increase foot flow and sales but might also have a positive effect on how the wider public view museums as a whole. By opening up the space into sociable and after-work hours, the museum becomes a entertainment hot-spot.

All of the panel offered their support for museums to open a little later and to provide evening events on a weekly or monthly basis – much like the Natural History Museum's After Hours programme."
It's interesting that they said "a little later".  My suggestion is for them to open as late as nine or ten o'clock.  Perhaps not every night.  The Louvre keeps its door opening until 9.45pm on Wednesdays and Fridays (but then it doesn't have enough staff to have all its rooms open all the time and is shut on Tuesday).  I'm not saying its a perfect example.

But we have to get out of this just being for special events and make it the norm.  For it to be accepted and expected.  Extra hours would cost money because of staffing and utilities and whatnot but it's not entirely unlikely that the extra footfall to use restaurants and shops.  Potential donations may compensate.

I'd be against charging for just these particular hours since that would nullify the benefits and limit access.  But this has to be something worth looking at.  As a nation we're rather stuck in rut in relation to our evening's entertainment and this would go some way to offering some extra freedom to those of us who keep the engines running during the day.

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