Access is the key

Theodore Dalrymple exhibits an alarmingly bigoted and ignorant view of museums in general and Te Papa in particular ("An amusement arcade masquerading as a museum", 12 February). In January I spent three days looking at exhibits, watching visitors and talking to staff. Te Papa is committed to access and biculturalism, which are official policies in New Zealand.

Museums are not places of scholarship. They are places where objects of cultural significance, and the issues surrounding them, are exhibited for people to experience and think about. Te Papa is carefully designed to allow maximum access, intellectual, physical and social, to its collections of culturally significant objects. To suggest that this is an exemplar of the lowest common denominator is an insult to the people who work at Te Papa, the population of New Zealand, and the world community of the museum profession. Dalrymple owes them all a profuse apology.

Jon Price
Time Travellers, History in Action, Co Durham

This article first appeared in the 19 February 1999 issue of the New Statesman, We are richer than you think