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Museum archaeologists defend charging for research

The society for promoting the involvement of museums in archaeological research, along with improving public understanding of the discipline, has defended the practice of museums charging for research access.

At the beginning of March, the Prehistoric Society said in a statement that levying charges for research on collections could “hardly be consonant with increasing access or encouraging research”. The practice was contrary to the code of ethics of the Museums Association, the professional membership organisation for museums, galleries and heritage organisations, the society said.

Following that announcement, the Society for Museum Archaeology retorted that it had undertaken a survey of its members to establish where and in what context charges were being levied. In its response on 29 April, the SMA said it agreed with the principle that museums should endeavour to make access to their collections free for researchers but added that few museums appeared to making any charges at all. Where this does happen, the SMA said, it is “only in extremis, or to reflect real costs incurred in doing so”.

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