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BURBANK : Museum Branch Cuts Price of Admission

August 19, 1993|ED BOND

The paltry trickle of visitors on paying days and the unbearable crowding on free-admission days have forced the Burbank branch of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History to rethink its policies.

"I've seen some people come up and say, 'Oh, $5? Forget it' and walk away," said Mary Ann Dunn, the branch's administrator.

Surveys taken since the branch opened in May have been telling the museum that visitors are unhappy with the price of admission and that they wanted later hours. Last week the museum cut adult admission to $3.50 and changed the hours, although it is still too soon to know if the move will bring in more visitors.

"These are tough economic times and people just didn't have the money," Dunn said. The $5 price is what the main county museum branch charges.

The branch has also been overwhelmed by crowds of up to 1,400 on the third Tuesday of the month, when admission is free. That practice has been canceled, Dunn said Wednesday. The crowding created long lines and long waits to get into such exhibits as the Discovery Center, which can take only 70 people at a time.

"We couldn't handle it," Dunn said.

But the crowds and visitors from as far away as Irvine have convinced officials that lowering the price would bring in a steadier and larger paying crowd, Dunn said. The museum has had an average of 300 visitors on paying days.

The museum has also shifted its 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours to noon to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, in response to the visitor surveys. But the new hours will only last until the current exhibit, "Backyard Monsters," which includes large, robotic insects, closes Sept. 12.

"Masters of the Night, the True Story of Bats" opens Oct. 9. While the museum is between exhibits, admission is $1.50.

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