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Valuing congestion costs in the British Museum

Maddison, D.; Foster, T.; (2001) Valuing congestion costs in the British Museum. (CSERGE Publications ). Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (CSERGE): London, UK. Green open access

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Museums are potentially congestible resources because the exhibits they contain are, in any relevant sense of the word, irreproducible. Insofar as visitor congestion diminishes the value of individuals’ visits it constitutes an additional reason for charging for admission to museums, albeit one not previously considered. A policy of free access to a museum containing unique treasures may dissipate the economic benefits of the museum. Within the context of an empirical study undertaken for the British Museum using stated preference techniques it is shown that the congestion cost posed by the marginal visitor is quite high. Notwithstanding the argument that visits to the museum may possess external benefits, this points to the desirability of instigating charges for admission. Furthermore, it is shown that the marginal congestion cost decreases at least over a range as visitor numbers increase. In other words beyond certain levels introducing more visitors does not worsen congestion. This suggests that, contrary to what is often assumed, charging more during periods of high demand may be undesirable. Insofar as congestion is a widespread phenomenon in important museums, galleries and sites of historical heritage the issues raised in this paper as well as the methodology devised to determine congestion costs could have widespread application.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: Valuing congestion costs in the British Museum
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.cserge.ucl.ac.uk/publications.html
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Economics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/17586
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