Sainsbury Centre at University of East Anglia invites visitors to pay 'if and what they can'

Credit Andy Crouch
The Sainsbury Centre is on the University of East Anglia campus. Credit: Andy Crouch

A museum has announced plans to be the first in the UK to introduce a universal "pay if and what you can" ticketing system across all its galleries.

The Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia in Norwich says it wants to break down the traditional boundary between its permanent collections and temporary exhibition pricing.

Currently admission to temporary exhibitions cost £14 while access permanent galleries is free - but under the new plans there will be no fixed prices for anywhere in the museum.

It generates somewhere in the region of £350,000 a year through admission prices.

Sainsbury Centre executive director Jago Cooper said: “Our ambition is to enable and encourage more people to visit and enjoy one of the most genre-defying art museums in the world.

"An open and dynamic arts landscape across the whole museum provides a better experience for everyone who visits us.

"This is just the first of several transformations the Sainsbury Centre will be undergoing in preparation for a major relaunch in April 2023.”

The Sainsbury Centre was designed by Norman Foster and opened in 1978 Credit: Pete Huggins

The Sainsbury Centre collections are housed in a space-framed building designed by Norman Foster. When it was opened in 1978 it was the largest open plan museum space in the UK.

Museum managers hope that the original ambition of empowering people to find their own pathway to art will be re-invigorated by the new policy.

The museum houses what is said to be one of the most diverse art collections in the UK, with thousands of works to enjoy from across the globe spanning 5,000 years from prehistory through to contemporary.

The new "pay if and what you can" system at the Sainsbury Centre will be introduced on 12 March 2023.

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