According to CityLab Berliners are returning to the city’s museums, with credit being given to free admission Sundays. Sixty-seven museums are offering free admission which is part of a larger effort to explore ways in which people can assemble during the pandemic.
Participating museums are required to follow hygiene and distancing rules. Offering free entrance to the museums alone won’t bring back crowds to the city center — people need to feel it is safe to visit museums and public places again, said Klaus Lederer, Berlin’s Senator for Culture and Europe.
The Museum Sunday is also one of several cultural happenings in Berlin that has found a way to attract visitors amid a sustained global health crisis. Events like the Berlin Art Week, the open-air event Draussenstadt and the Clubculture reboot weekend, a pilot project to experiment how partying can work during a pandemic, are taking place in Berlin this summer.
The free admission Sundays were being planned prior to the pandemic as a way to attract a broader audience. In the US at least research has shown that free admission doesn’t really attract new visitors, but rather attract those who already visit the museum thereby delaying their next potential paid visit by a year or two. Hearing about a similar plan in Berlin made me wonder if the same held true for Germany or if there are are more nuanced dynamics at work there.
This being said, given that people have had 18+ months of not attending public events, a situation that may extend into the near future, it may be necessary to offer free admission to entice the return of those who would normally visit. What that portends for the future remains to be seen.