Museums on the move may reimpose fees

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Several museums that dropped their admission fees a few years ago in return for higher attendance may start charging visitors again, ironically to obtain needed tax write-offs. They may not be able to afford passing up the write-offs, especially given the expense of looming moves.

Many museums in Oslo face expensive moves to new locations, as redevelopment plans lead to a major degree of uprooting. The Munch Museum, for example, is due to move to the waterfront, debate rages over whether the Viking Ships Museum may move as well, or whether the university cultural historic collections will be consolidated near the existing Viking Ships Museum at Bygdøy.

The National Gallery, meanwhile, may move to Vestbane, and the Astrup-Fearnley Museum is heading for new quarters being built at Tjuvholmen on the western waterfront.

Both the National Gallery, part of the National Museum group, and Astrup-Fearnley are among those that dropped admission fees but new proposals from the Finance Ministry may prompt reinstatement.

That’s because the ministry plans to impose an 8 percent VAT (merverdiavgift, mva) on admission fees to museums, galleries and other attractions in Norway from July 1. In return, the museums would be allowed to write off all the VAT they pay on other goods and services.

If Astrup-Fearnley started charging, for example, NOK 50 at the door, it could result in new income and VAT savings equal to as much as NOK 3.5 million. “We don’t know if we can pass that up,” museum director Gunnar Kvaran told newspaper Aftenposten. The National Museum could lose write-offs amounting to NOK 14 million.

Debate continues, meanwhile, over a new location for collections tied to the Museum of Cultural History. A new traffic analysis shows consolidation on Bygdøy would be possible, if new bus and ferry service is added. Some favor moving the Viking Ships Museum, now on Bygdøy, and the downtown Historical Museum collections to a new building at Bjørvika, near the new Munch Museum and the site of Oslo’s origins in what’s now called the Middle Ages Park.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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