As I understand it, the VAT was at least as significant as any loss
in income from admissions. What is important to remember though is that this
is an example of double standards. The Government has (quite rightly imho)
moved the goal posts to permit free admission to national museums - which
are in many ways behind the local museums on public stuff, but way ahead on
research. The sad thing is that no such pressure is coming to bear for LA
museums, and the stories we have read on this list suggest that within a
short time many museums which are far more relevant to local people and
disadvantaged groups are being forced into charging for admission, or losing
staff or opening times, or (increasingly) all of the above. Research in
local authority museums is probably a luxury that few can indulge, but it
should be a core discipline, resulting in improved services to the public
and better displays.
But then I'm an old-fashioned sort of chap.