HC Deb 09 December 1890 vol 349 c746
SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether, considering that the public are now deprived of the use of the Great Natural History Museum, not only in the afternoons and evenings, but also on foggy winter days, and that the facilities of lighting are now such that the Museum has already been temporarily lighted by electricity for societies meeting there, the Treasury will again consider the advisability of providing funds to light the Museum?


Temporary arrangements for electric lighting have occasionally been made by societies who have been allowed the use of the Natural History Museum, but until further experience has been obtained of the effect of evening opening at the British Museum it is not proposed to take up the question of making a permanent installation for electric light at the Natural History Museum.


I wish to know whether the Government, in considering this matter, have had regard to the fact that the British Museum is an institution of an unpopular character, whereas the South Kensington Museum is one of an extremely popular kind; and whether, therefore, some opportunity should not be given of seeing the latter in the evening?


I do not think the hon. Member's description of the British Museum accords with the description given in the House when the Government were pledged to introduce the electric light into the Museum, and I may add that the experience there is not extremely satisfactory—[Sir G. CAMPBELL: "Hear, hear!"]—because evening attendance, which in February averaged 635, fell in March to 367, and has continued to fall since, until in November it was only 145.