Fees scrapped at 33 Beijing museums

By Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-03-25 07:00

Thirty-three of Beijing's most popular State-owned museums, including the Capital Museum, the Museum of Natural History and the Chinese People's Anti-Japanese War Memorial Hall, will stop charging entrance fees from Friday.

People will still have to pay to see some historical sites and places such as the Forbidden City. And most of the museums will limit the number of visitors each day by controlling the number of tickets made available.

"Visitors can book tickets simply by giving their names five days before they intend to visit. Reservations can be made by phone or online," Han Yong, deputy curator of the Capital Museum, said.

"The museum can accommodate 3,000 people per day," he said.

"Visitors should bring their ID cards when they pick up their tickets."

Foreign visitors will also enjoy free tickets "as long as they show up with an ID card", Shu Xiaofeng, deputy head of the Beijing municipal administration of cultural heritage, said.

Participants in the program include museums and memorial halls belonging to municipal or district cultural and heritage protection departments, as well as municipal-level patriotic education centers.

The Capital Museum's regular exhibitions cover the history and culture of ancient Beijing, urban construction and local folk customs.

The Museum of Natural History features exhibitions about the evolution of dinosaurs and mammals.

Beijing's museums have been improving their services, and many of them will launch special exhibitions during the Olympic Games in August.

The government has long planned to drop admissions fees at State-run museums, but the hoards of visitors that descended on the Fujian Provincial Museum after it opened its doors gave some officials pause for thought.

The Xinhua News Agency reported that unruly visitors damaged several exhibits, including an elephant specimen, in Fujian.

China has more than 2,300 museums, which attracted 150 million people last year.

By April 1, a total of 600 museums will have dropped entrance fees.

That number is expected to grow to 1,400 next year, Zhang Bai, deputy director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, said.

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