I had been walking around central London for about three hours, just drinking in the atmosphere. Wandering through Trafalgar Square I noted that admission to the National Gallery was free.
I don’t usually mind paying for museums and similar attractions, not even the inflated places some of them charge. I know it costs money to run a museum, and the taxpayers don’t always want to be on the hook for everything.
My issue on this particular day was one of time. I didn’t want to pay an admission fee when I was only between meetings. If I am going to pay, I want to get my money’s worth. The National Gallery is the sort of place I could happily spend a day, maybe two. There was no way I would have paid admission for just a short visit. But since it was free, I killed an hour.
I wasn’t taking notes, and certainly not taking pictures, which is prohibited, so I can’t give you details on what I saw. Two rooms of 17th century Dutch paintings and a room of 18th century French painters whose names I didn’t recognize. The Dutch stuff captured me with vibrant colours – I made the assumption that the paintings had been restored (or at the very least cleaned). The French stuff wasn’t as good.
Next time in London I hope to go back, maybe take in another room or two. I hadn’t realized about the free admission before. Now that I know I can plan on taking in the entire gallery, though that may take me a decade or so, given the frequency of my trips to London.
It will be worth it though. Great art is part of our heritage and should be appreciated. I am thankful that someone made a decision to make this collection available to the public without an admission fee. I suspect more people will see it this way – and if they don’t they only have themselves to blame.