YORK Art Gallery is to start charging for entry again from the beginning of next month.

Entry to the gallery’s permanent collections was made free in the summer of 2020 in a bid to attract visitors after the first Covid lockdown.

It has remained free ever since – but as long ago as last March, it was revealed that the move was costing £200,000 per year in lost income.

Now gallery bosses have confirmed that from February 1, adults will be charged £7 for entry, while children under 16 will pay £3.50.

There will still be free entry for children under 16 who live in York – but not for adult York residents, who will have to pay the slightly discounted rate of £6.30.

It will mean the York Residents Festival later this month will be one of the last chances for many York people to visit the gallery without charge.

York Museums Trust’s chief executive Kathryn Blacker said: “York Art Gallery runs a busy changing programme of exhibitions and activities which attract over 120,000 visitors a year.

“Keeping the doors open and ensuring we continue to deliver high quality programmes requires significant resources and, like many other organisations, we are facing sustained rising costs. In addition, the grants we receive have not increased since 2016.

“Prior to March 2020 and the gallery’s closure in response to Covid restrictions we charged for entry.

"Since reopening we have offered free entry to our permanent collection and a charge for entry to our special temporary exhibitions. However, this model does not meet the financial needs of the gallery.

“Following careful reflection and exploration of a range of options, York Museums Trust has made the decision to reintroduce charging for entry into York Art Gallery from 1 February 2024.”


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But the move has been criticised by York art critic Charles Hutchinson as ‘ill advised’ and ‘short-sighted’.

He said that the last time charges were introduced at the gallery, the number of visitors fell significantly.

“The same will probably happen again now,” he said. “It’s not the answer. People should be able to see the art work that’s collected in their city.”

Cllr Jo Coles, the executive member for culture on City of York Council,  said the reintroduction of charges at the gallery was 'unfortunate but not surprising in the current climate of increasing costs'.

She added: We’re keen to see the Art Gallery retain occasional free access for residents so they have opportunities once or twice a year to visit their art gallery free of charge, such as on the Residents Festival weekend coming up later this month."

Charging for entry to the art gallery was first introduced in 2015 – along with charges for entry to the Yorkshire Museum and York Castle Museum, which are both also run by York Museums Trust.

The art gallery scrapped admission charges post-Covid, however – although it did charge for entry to temporary exhibitions.

York Castle Museum and the Yorkshire Museum have continued to charge for entry throughout.

A spokesperson for York Museums Trust stressed today that entry to Museum Gardens would continue to remain free.

There would also be free entry to resident York children aged 16 and under, to those on means tested benefits, and to some others.

“We will also offer some reduced-price concessions,” the spokesperson said.

The charge for entry to the art gallery from February 1 will be as follows:

  • - Adult: £7 (with gift aid £7.70)
  • - Child 16 and under: £3.50  (with gift aid £3.85)
  • - York Resident Child aged 16 and under: free
  • - Young person (student or aged 17-25): £6.30 (with gift aid £6.93)
  • - York Resident (YO postcodes within City of York Council) £6.30 (with gift aid £6.93)
  • - Friends of York Art Gallery: £3.50 (with gift aid £3.85)

There will continue to be free entry for claimants of means tested benefits including Universal Credit, Museum Association Members, people seeking sanctuary or in the asylum process, Community Participation Card holders, Museum Development Yorkshire volunteers, York Museums Trust Patrons & Supporters, Blue Badge Tour guides and carers accompanying a paying adult/child needing assistance.