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Uffizi Gallery ticket price hike rages on

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The Uffizi Galleries have raised their ticket prices due to pressure from rising energy prices, while research shows museums across the country are charging more for entry. Gennaro Sangiuliano, Italy’s culture minister, suggested the increases were justified because Italian museums charge less than their European counterparts, sparking a debate over how much people should be asked to pay for culture.

The Uffizi Gallery, Italy’s most visited museum, announced on January 10 that full-price tickets will cost €25 in high season (March 1 to November 30), up from €20 previously. Early-bird visitors will pay €19 from 8:15 a.m. to 8:55 a.m. Low season ticket prices remain unchanged.

The new tariffs would help “address rising costs in the energy and building sectors”, according to a press release issued by the Offices. “We had to rethink our price plan if we wanted to carry out all the projects that we had on the agenda,” explains a spokesperson for the museum.

As elsewhere in Europe, energy prices have soared since Russia invaded Ukraine, with the average Italian family paying more than €150 for gas in December 2022, up from around €67 two years earlier. , according to the public energy regulator ARERA. The average gas bill had fallen to €85 last month.

Some institutions have struggled, with the municipal museums of Bra in Piedmont closing for two months “to limit energy consumption”, according to a press release. A survey by the Altroconsumo website found that Italian museums raised their prices by 10% last year, with those in Naples raising theirs by 33%.

“No price increase is planned. It would not be correct”

Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said museum visitors should be prepared to pay for ‘intrinsic and historical value’
Photo: Massimo Di Vita/Mondadori Portfolio/Sipa USA

However, Rome’s culture assessor told reporters on January 12 that the capital’s municipal museums would not raise prices “because we are focused on improving our services.” Cecilie Hollberg, director of the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, says: “I won’t raise the prices; no increase is expected. That wouldn’t be right.”

The Ministry of Culture announced in September that 40 million euros would be allocated to help cultural institutions cope with rising costs. A quarter of the total is intended for museums.

“Justified” increases

Sangiuliano told reporters attending the opening of the House of the Vettii in Pompeii, the same day as the Uffizi announcement, that the rate increases were justified. “We have to comply with European standards. At present, major European museums cost more on average, with the exception of the UK,” the Minister said. “If something has intrinsic and historical value, you have to pay for it.”

Italian publications have subsequently noted that many of Europe’s most visited museums have lower entrance fees than the Uffizi, with the Prado in Madrid charging €15, the Louvre in Paris €17, the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin €12 and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam €20. .

Sangiuliano clarified his position in a radio interview, saying reports that Italy’s top museums were raising prices were “gigantic fake news”. He added: “So far only the Uffizi, and possibly Pompeii, intend to reconsider their prices.” Asked if European museums don’t charge more than their Italian counterparts, Sangiuliano said, “in some cases, our museums are priced lower.”


Tomaso Montanari, an art historian and left-wing commentator, pointed out that while the minister initially embraced the idea of ​​a price increase, to demonstrate that the right-wing government represents the interests of Italians, he was forced to change his position when told that museums in the country are not necessarily cheaper to visit than those elsewhere in Europe. “Initially he wanted to emphasize that Italy has the best cultural heritage in the world and argue that Italians come first by suggesting that foreigners would pay more,” Montanari said. “Then he noticed his mistake and hit the brakes.”

“Initially he wanted to argue that Italians come first by suggesting that foreigners would pay more”

The Money.it website published a survey earlier this year asking Italians if ticket prices should be increased. While 54% thought they shouldn’t and 19% said museums should be free, 22% supported increases for better financial institutions, with just 5% saying they agreed they were necessary to bring Italian prices in line with those in Europe.

In his radio interview, Sangiuliano explained that Italy’s largest state-funded museums, which the government granted greater autonomy in 2014, set their own prices, adding that his department had increased the number of days on which public museums can be visited free of charge.

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