Exclusive by Nicola Hyde
HISTORICAL artefacts are being damaged because too many tourists are going to museums as part of a controversial free entry scheme.
The government's aim to promote more culture and heritage led to entry fees being scrapped in museums and art galleries across the UK - but industry experts say it is doing more harm than good.
Sean Gaffaney, of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, said since the government introduced the scheme visitor numbers had rocketed from 300,000 a year - to over 500,000.
He said: "We are now up to 500,000 visitors without any corresponding increase in revenue funding to do extra repair works or pay for staff.
"The Natural History Museum is packed every day and it's nightmarish really because the facilities are not designed for so many people a year to go through them.
"We are just a science centre but bigger museums are struggling with this.
"They are getting two to three million visitors a year which is an enormous strain on resources.
"There is a vast disparity between what the government gives per visitor and what is actually needed. I fear it is one of those decisions that they just will not go back on."
Colin Dawson, spokesman for the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions, added: "We have heard that revenue generation is far more difficult. Spending is down and its creating another problem because footfall is creating resource problems in upkeep and damage.
"Artefacts are getting damaged because of the increased numbers and places are finding it hard to keep up with that."
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