A visit to Palace Museum will soon be a walk in the park

By Sun Yuanqing ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-03-28 10:11:35

A visit to Palace Museum will soon be a walk in the park

The Palace Museum is packed with visitors during a recent weekend. Jiang Dong/China Daily

The Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, is planning to set up new service areas to reduce the overwhelming crowds in the Imperial Garden, museum director Shan Jixiang said on Wednesday.

An elaborate classic Chinese garden, the Imperial Garden is the last stop on the itinerary of the museum and is one of the most cramped areas. It is currently occupied by several food and beverage stores. The place is more like a dining and resting area than a classic garden at the moment, Shan says.

New service centers will be set up on each side of the Palace of Earthly Tranquility, which is near the Imperial Garden. The new service centers will have food and drink supplies, Wi-Fi and televisions.

"We want to provide an environment where visitors no longer have to squat in the courtyard but take their breaks with dignity," Shan says.

The food stores in the Imperial Garden will be replaced by souvenir shops that sell books and culture products related to the Palace Museum, Shan says.

The steel bars that surround the ancient trees in the garden will be removed to make more room for the visitors. The soil around the trees will be covered with anti-corrosion planks to divert the visitors from the stone-paved road. Delicately paved with stones of more than 900 patterns, the road is a precious heritage from the past but has been partly damaged because of overcapacity.

"The intention is to make it more like a classic garden as it once was, rather than a public garden," Shan says. Shan also calls on visitors to stop throwing bank notes and coins into the pond in the garden to wish for blessings, as the action pollutes the water.

Meanwhile, the museum had a second consultation meeting to revise its plans to reduce the number of visitors during peak season and increase the figures in low season.

The imperial palace for the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, the Palace Museum is the world's largest existing complex of ancient wooden buildings. It received more than 14 million people in 2013, making it the most visited museum in the world.

The museum is considering issuing annual tickets to regular visitors. It is also planning on identifying two days in the off-peak season every year when visitors can book free tickets online.

To divert visitors from all coming in the morning, the museum is considering promoting tickets at discounted prices after 2 pm. The museum is also promoting online booking to limit the number of visitors each day.

Li Lian, a volunteer who has been working in the museum for 10 years, suggests that the museum should sell tickets in different venues of the palace to reduce the overall congestion.

"People come for different purposes. For those who are only interested in the palaces, they can buy the tickets to the palaces. And for those who want to see the exhibitions, they don't have to pay for the palaces," Li says.


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