Eighty-three museums, including the Palace Museum, were selected from 149 applicants throughout China as National Level I Museums in Beijing on Sunday.
The announcement, by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, coincided with International Museum Day, which fell on Sunday.
Museums are rated Level I, II or III in China based on management, infrastructure, collections, research, exhibitions and services, with level I being the top grade.
Winners also included Shanghai Museum, Nanjing Museum, and Shaanxi History Museum. Situated in the heart of Beijing, the Palace Museum was established on the foundations of the palace that was the ritual center of two dynasties, the Ming and the Qing, and their collections of treasures. The Palace Museum was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.
"Rating museums is an effective way to enhance management of the museums," said Cai Wu, Minister of culture, at the award ceremony.
The move was expected to spur museums to offer better services. especially since the government declared all museums would open for free to the public, said Cai.
The government issued a circular in January this year, saying all museums, memorial halls and national patriotism education bases would offer free admission by 2009, excluding some cultural relics and historical sites.
China has more than 2,300 museums, which received 150 million people last year, according to Zhang Bai, deputy director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.