Latest News:  
Beijing   Sunny/Cloudy    29 / 16 ℃  City Forecast

Home>>Life & Culture

Free entry cannot attract visitors for Chinese museums

By Yang Xu (People's Daily)

07:42, May 23, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

China introduced a policy of free admission to public museums three years ago, and nearly 80 percent of the country’s cultural and antique museums are now open to the public free of charge.

Around the International Museum Day, many Chinese museums are still using the relatively old trick of offering “free admission” to attract visitors.

The introduction of the free admission policy used to turn once-ignored museums into busy destinations for visitors. For instance, the number of visitors to the Zhejiang Provincial Museum grew four-fold in the first year after the museum adopted the policy. The Fujian Provincial Museum was once temporally closed due to exhibition losses caused by the sudden huge influx of visitors.

However, many people believe that the upsurge in museum visitors cannot last long. Over time, people can lose interest and ignore museums once again.

The citizens of many developed countries visit the museum three to five times a year on average, while one of every five to six Chinese people visit the museum only once a year.

Free admission has become less appealing in the “post-free era.” There are worries that many Chinese people with immature psychology regarding the use of public goods have visited museums just because they are free, and failed to appreciate the cultural elements in the museums.

Certain believers in environmental determinism are worried that the free admission policy alone may not be able to ensure the prosperous development of the museum sector in China, where there is no tradition of museum visiting.

Free entry costs dearly. Free public goods, if not used properly, will cause negative consequences, and lead to the tragedy of the commons. It is a dilemma arising from the situation in which each shepherd is trying to increase the size of his own flock in order to maximize his own interests, which will ultimately deplete the shared field, leaving all the shepherds without food for their sheep. However, if such tragedy happens in China, it may be caused by excessive neglect instead of overexploitation.

Just making public goods free is not enough. The tragedy of the commons will be unavoidable if the quality and social awareness of citizens are not improved constantly.

Museums should not only provide knowledge, but also shape citizens’ awareness and habits. They should not only educate current visitors, but also make efforts to nurture the next generation of qualified visitors

Free access is just a starting point in the journey of striving for cultural equality. More efforts are needed to reach the end of journey.

Read the Chinese version: 只靠免费,门前可能依然冷落

Email|Print|Comments(Editor:雪萌、王金雪)

Leave your comment1 comments

  1. Name

E Peterson at 2012-05-2464.91.200.*
Few museums around the world are open to the public for free. One exception is the Smithsonian in Washington DC. It is always crowded because of the excellence of the collection and its presentation.
  

Selections for you


  1. Flower children on the streets of Kunming

  2. Int'l Day for Biological Diversity: For our world

  3. Armored regiment conducts combat drill

  4. Preview of jewelry auction held in Hong Kong

Most Popular

Opinions

  1. What is the US' aim behind arms sales to Taiwan?
  2. Investment-driven growth no longer a viable option
  3. Summit can't stop NATO from being marginalized
  4. Easing liquidity not a cure-all
  5. As Beijing remains mum, trade relationships suffer
  6. Intentions behind Japanese right-wingers’ collusion with ‘World Uyghur Congress’
  7. Real intentions of US exercise in Middle East
  8. Short-term trade recovery expected to elude China
  9. Stronger policies needed to push dividend payouts
  10. US, China must co-op to defuse confidence crisis

What's happening in China

Sewage suspected in fish death, Sichuan

  1. Suspect oil found in Yunnan
  2. Chinese grads prefer to work in smaller cities
  3. Chinese cities build digital geographic systems
  4. Winning streak ends for mainland stocks
  5. Bond market to expand for SMEs

China Features

  1. High ticket prices, unaffordable landscapes
  2. Huangyan tensions
  3. 2012 Russia-China joint naval exercise
  4. 2nd Beijing International Film Festival
  5. Auto China 2012

PD Online Data

  1. Spring Festival
  2. Chinese ethnic odyssey
  3. Yangge in Shaanxi
  4. Gaoqiao in Northern China
  5. The drum dance in Ansai