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Sainsbury Centre becomes first UK museum to introduce universal ‘Pay if and What You Can’ ticketing

The Sainsbury Centre is the first museum in the UK to introduce a universal ‘Pay if and What You Can’ ticketing system across the whole museum, breaking down the traditional boundary between the collection and temporary exhibition pricing.

Sainsbury Centre, Living Area. Photo: Andy Crouch

Common to most other institutions, the cutting-edge ideas and amazing art gathered in the regular Sainsbury Centre temporary exhibitions have sat behind what can be prohibitive, temporary exhibition price point of £14. Meantime the free to access permanent galleries have lacked the creative invention, dynamism and investment they merit.

Introducing a single point of access to the vast exhibition space – as well the captivating 20 acres of sculpture park set in the fields and woods around a Norfolk broad as part of the 350 acres of University of East Anglia’s campus – will allow an entirely new approach to experiencing an arts landscape.

On entering the stunning architectural wonder that is Norman Foster’s space frame genesis, the ground, mezzanine and basement levels will now be free to wander with a new all-access map. In the 1970’s the revolutionary design of the museum was famous for taking art off the walls and allowing people to choose their own journey through, what was at the time, the largest open plan museum space in the UK. It is hoped this ambition of empowering people to find their own pathway to art will be re-invigorated by the new policy – and with one of the most diverse art collections in the UK, with thousands of works to enjoy from across the globe spanning 5000 years from prehistory through to contemporary, there will definitely be something that captivates every visitor’s imagination and enjoyment, now they are given the freedom to do so.

Sainsbury Centre Executive Director Jago Cooper says: “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.”

‘Pay if and What You Can’ will be introduced on 12 March, just in time for the opening of two exciting new exhibitions – Empowering Art: Indigenous Creativity and Activism from North America’s Northwest Coast* and Julian Stair: Art, Death and the Afterlife**

Visitors will be asked to pay only if they can and whatever they want on their way in. They will then be given an access all-areas ticket and map to explore as they like, stopping off at our two restaurants/cafes, free gallery tours, free learning events and shop as they like.

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Learn & Create

The artworks in our collection and exhibitions come to life when you join us to look, think, discuss, question, create, play and tell stories around them. Find out how you can get involved and become a part of our learning community. 


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Sculpture Park

Our Sculpture Park sits within 350 acres of UEA parkland and is the perfect place to enjoy art and the natural environment. Open daily.

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