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By Derek Cash

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Extra info for Access to Museum Culture: the British Museum from 1753 to 1836

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Basil Cozens-Hardy (London: Oxford 53 54 institution for not charging the public, and in one case said that the British Museum is "for the free inspection of all curious and studious persons. . "53 The novelty of free access lingered for many years, for when The Times published a snippet about it, the Museum had been open for almost thirty years. ". . "54 There were, however, two serious instances when free access came into question, and the trustees had to consider charging people an entrance fee.

They represented learning and education for the Muse, and they signified to the visitor an institution for scholarly purposes. Because the trustees interpreted the British Museum as a place for research, they accorded the facilities most readily to `learned and studious men'. At one of the earliest General Meetings (14 January 1754) the trustees established a committee to frame rules for visiting and inspecting the Museum. During the course of the three years that it took to devise the rules, they prepared a draft in 1755 that clearly indicated whom the Museum was for.

63-65. 49Ibid. 29 In the following year (1756) or shortly thereafter, Gowin Knight, the Museum's first director, or Principal Librarian, as the trustees referred to the office, wrote a composition of the rules. As the officers did not establish policy, he probably took the rules from dictation at a trustees meeting. It bore a resemblance to the report from the previous year and began with the sentence, "Tho the principal Intention in founding the British Museum is for the Use of learned & studious men, as well natives as foreigners.

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Access to Museum Culture: the British Museum from 1753 to 1836 by Derek Cash


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