Die große Granitschale im Lustgarten vor dem Alten Museum ist beschmiert, aufgenommen am 24. September 2020. Auf der Berliner Museumsinsel ist es erneut zu einem Fall von Vandalismus gekommen, wie die Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz mitteilte. Foto: Kitty Kleist-Heinrich

Today it’s that time again: 60 exhibition halls all over the city do not charge admission. Berlin’s “Museum Sunday” has been around for over two years now and was invented by the Senator for Culture, Klaus Lederer. As an upright Leftist, it is a matter close to his heart to really enable everyone to enjoy art.

And he pays a lot for this participation initiative. In the two pandemic years 2020 and 2021, a total of 1.5 million euros was available so that the institutions could compensate for their loss of income and also offer free programs accompanying their exhibitions on museum Sunday. In 2022, the amount was raised to two million euros, and further financing for 2023 is secured.

No wonder that in view of these sums, Berlin parliamentarians like Laura Neugebauer and Daniela Billig from the Greens are interested in whether the free and indoor campaign will be accepted by the target groups for which it is intended. So whether Berliners who would otherwise not be financially able to visit an exhibition or who have not yet thought that viewing art could be an attractive leisure activity actually make their way on the museum Sundays.

Or whether not only the usually well-informed educated circles use the free offer. Neugebauer, who is also chairwoman of the culture committee in the House of Representatives, and Billig, the cultural policy spokeswoman for the Berlin Greens, have therefore made an official request to the Senate Department for Culture and Europe. But the answer doesn’t really satisfy her.

Because although the campaign has been scientifically accompanied by the Institute for Cultural Participation Research (IFKT) since the beginning, only “interim results” are available so far. And they remain extremely vague in their wording. There you can read, for example, that the museum Sunday attracts “both first-time visitors and repeat visitors” and that “partially” different groups of the public are reached than usual. In any case, the guests on this day were “quite young, mostly female” and had a “high level of education”.

“We want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy Berlin’s broad cultural landscape. Admission prices are clearly a barrier,” emphasizes Daniela Billig. “Museum Sundays could be a good measure. Without the relevant data, however, we cannot say that with absolute certainty.” The final report of the IFKT has been announced for March 2023.

The parliamentarians find that too late. “As MPs, it is our job to check whether the actions and plans of the Senate were successful and whether the continuation makes sense,” says Laura Neugebauer. If this is not the case, the addressing of non-visitors must be readjusted. In order to be able to plan such measures in good time before the start of the consultations for the next double budget, it is important to have meaningful facts at hand as soon as possible.