Last week I took a mini-vacay around London and to Paris. I was lucky enough to have an old friend from Loyola University come to Europe for a two week visit. Now, I work part time to support my writing career and I couldn’t swing a the full break with him. But I took three day’s off and managed some time in France. I was nervous about paying for the holiday. It was my friends first time travelling internationally, so he wanted to see everything. I mean EVERYTHING!! All the museums, national monuments, churches, he wanted to go all over the cities.
The cost of all this was concerning. As I said, I work part time at a nursery/daycare to support writing books and blogging. So paying for extra trips isn’t easy. This trip included hostel stays, flights, trains, public transportation, food, AND all the places my friend wanted to see. I wasn’t sure how I could managed it.
I guesstimated that I would have to pay at least a hundred and fifty pounds, if not more on museums and monuments alone. I started to research which museums were going to cost me the most. And I stumbled across a surprising thing. In London, my friend wanted to see the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, Science Museum and a bunch of other places. This was only the first part of my trip and I thought I had at least fifty pounds in expenses. BUT it was all FREE. The museums in England are all free! Not just to British citizens, or EU citizens, but to everyone. Naturally, there is a suggested donation but not required.
In America, museums are rarely free. Especially not the major ones in big cities like New York City or Washington D.C. Occasionally, kids museums are free to children and their parents. (one major exception is the Smithsonian institution) But otherwise, American’s are capitalist to the bone and they want to charge everyone to view their treasures.
British Museum: Free————————- Newseum: $22.95
National Portrait Gallery: Free ———— Metropolitan Museum of Art: $25
National History Museum: Free ————– American Museum of Natural History: $22
Look at the cost of simply going to a museum in the US. It’s astronomical. It would take someone working federal minimum wage at least 4 hours of work to earn a ticket to just one of these places.
Once I realized visiting all these places was free, the stress of my trip eased. But I can’t understand why is it free here in England, but costs so much to visit cultural places in America?
I truly think that many children grow up to be more narrow minded in the US because they don’t get access to cultural things that will open their minds to the bigger world. In the UK children frequently take school trips to London to see the museums or even to Europe to be exposed to new things. The biggest trip my brother has gone on this year has been to the Kansas City Zoo with school. If children are kept in a small sphere and view of the world, how will they ever progress their ideas?
This might seem like a reach, to suggest that lack of access to free museums and educational experiences is the cause of racism, or sexism, or hatred towards foreign concepts in many American households. But just consider it. If a child only hears and see’s what their parents believe, and doesn’t see what people from other walks of life can do and create, what else can they believe but what their parents do and say? The more exposure children have at a young age to cultural differences, the more likely they are to accept differences in people.
I think America has failed in making museums, and access to art, history and science cost so much that people below middle class can’t go to them. Art shouldn’t come with a price tag to simply view it in a public space, Parents shouldn’t have to pay for their children to learn about space and see artefacts from space travel. Culture shouldn’t cost.