Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Don't Do It, Boris!

Seems to me that Boris Johnson's tenure as London mayor has thus far been a qualified success (he has certainly benefited from low expectations)... but I could never forgive him for taking away free museums. A society can be judged in part by the number of free libraries and museums it supports. The practice in Italy of charging an arm and a leg for admission not only to museums but also to churches and cathedrals may be a necessary evil but it is tawdry and a burden on national pride, whereas the free-admission Smithsonian, British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern and so on make one proud to be a member of the "English-speaking peoples." And then there are geopolitical considerations. After all, what is soft power without free museums?