Home/Culture/ Heritage

Opening up the Palace Museum

Updated: 2014-05-22 10:00 By Wang Kaihao (China Daily)

Respecting visitors

Opening up the Palace Museum

Palace Museum on outreach drive

Opening up the Palace Museum

The treasure tale of two museums

Opening up the Palace Museum

Palace Museum outlines its steps to preserve site

The Palace Museum received 15.34 million visitors in 2012, and is the world's only museum whose annual visitor numbers surpasses 10 million. It was once normal to spend at least an hour waiting in line to buy tickets. After Shan ordered all the ticket booths open, the wait period has dramatically reduced.

"After standing in line waiting for over an hour and squeezing into the museum following the crowd, how many people will be in the mood to enjoy the visit?" Shan says. "We should treat visitors with more dignity when they come from afar just to admire our palace."

Shan says the huge volume of visitors brings many challenges.

"But, we cannot increase the entrance fee. Many visitors are from low-income families. We can't shut the door in their face."

The entrance fee is 40 yuan in the lean season and 60 yuan in peak season - much lower than many smaller tourist attractions nationwide.

The museum has cleaned up the square by its front gate and installed hundreds of new seats. Smoking is banned in the entire museum premises. One-seventh of visitors to the Palace Museum come from overseas, so the museum provides an audio guide service in 40 languages.

Perhaps Shan's biggest move has been to open the middle front gate, which was traditionally only opened for emperors, and in modern times, visiting state leaders.

"Everyone visiting the Palace Museum should be treated equally. They have the right to choose which gate to walk through, as all visitors must enter the museum on foot. The influence of special guests should be minimized."

That was why US first lady Michelle Obama and French president Francois Hollande also entered the museum on foot.

"It is a pity that many visitors only walk through the axis, missing some excellent exhibits scattered in the temples in the two wings," he says. "On one hand, the central part of the museum is too crowded, and on the other hand, some exhibition halls are almost empty. When I walked into an exhibition a few days ago, I only spotted 27 visitors."

More areas in the Forbidden City will be opened to visitors in the coming years.

Only 52 percent of the total area is now open, but the number will rise to 76 percent by the end of 2016. The mysterious part of the western wing - once the home of queens and concubines - will be unveiled to the public for the first time.

Most Popular