Visitor numbers up at free museums
Updated: 2011-01-25 07:52
By Zhang Zixuan (China Daily)
Free admission to some of China's museums, introduced two years ago, is paying off.
More people have been visiting museums after the introduction of the free admission policy. Zhao Jingwei / For China Daily
According to the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH), 1,743 museums threw open their doors to the public for free by the end of 2009. Others have introduced preferential policies, such as special free open days and discounts for specific groups, such as students.
The free admission policy was initiated by the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Culture and SACH.
"Visitor numbers increased by 50 percent after the policy was launched and is still growing," says Xin Lujiang, head of SACH's museum department.
In Anhui province, for example, the annual visitor number at free museums was 1.65 million in 2007. That increased sharply to 6.52 million in 2008. And in 2009, the number stood at 10.99 million, nearly seven times the number in 2007.
Free museums are also hosting more exhibitions. In 2008, they accounted for 8,480 exhibitions nationwide, while in 2009, this number had grown to 14,057.
But the further growth of such museums still faces challenges, such as uneven exhibition quality, and a lack of professional guides and managers, Xin says.
To combat this, the central finance set aside 5.2 billion yuan ($789 million) in special funds from 2008 to 2010. Provinces, such as Jiangsu and Zhejiang, have implemented policies to subsidize privately owned museums that offer free admissions or very low entrance costs.
SACH also launched a ranking system for museums in 2008 and 2009. Now, there are 83 first-level museums, 171 second-level ones and 288 third-level museums in the country.
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