Institutes continue drive to promote nation's artistic heritage

By Wang Kaihao ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-03-11 07:47:12

Institutes continue drive to promote nation's artistic heritage

A set of ancient chime bells is displayed at the Capital Museum in Beijing on Wednesday. [Photo by Jiang Dong / China Daily]

China's museums, libraries and art galleries are making good on the government's pledge to promote the cultural industry and improve living standards. Wang Kaihao reports.

On March 2, an exhibition of 400 cultural relics unearthed during the excavation of the tomb of the Marquis Haihun (92 BC-59 BC) in Jiangxi province opened at the Capital Museum in Beijing.

Interest was intense because the Marquis was a well-known and controversial figure, who was also the Han emperor for just 27 days before being deposed.

Anticipating a flood of visitors, the museum, usually a free, walk-in attraction, took the unusual step of setting up an online platform and insisting that attendees book tickets in advance online. The first week was fully booked long before the doors officially opened, generating headlines in the media.

It wasn't the first time a museum had been in the news in recent years. When Beijing's Palace Museum, which is also known as the Forbidden City, staged an exhibition of 283 artistic masterpieces, including Along the River during the Qingming Festival-widely regarded as one of the finest examples of ancient Chinese painting-visitors happily waited until midnight to see the national treasures.

"Museums now have more free audio guides and attendants, and many have two-dimensional code scanning" (which allows visitors to obtain information about artifacts on their mobile devices), said Beijing resident Xia Nan, 28, who frequently visits museums in the capital.

"With new technology and better services being introduced, museums have become an important educational tool, rather than a novelty," Xia said.

For several years, the slogan "Visiting museums is a life-style" has been used to promote museums, and the rapid development of China's public cultural services system means the slogan has almost become the reality.

The promotion of Chinese culture is a crucial plank in a commitment to improve people's living standards made by the government at the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012.

Early last year, national guidance to promote the public cultural services system was published by the State Council as a way of stimulating and accelerating the development of institutions such as museums, libraries and cultural centers.

By the end of last year, China had 4,510 registered museums, 345 more than the previous year, which attracted more than 600 million visitors, according to statistics supplied by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage. Last year, 15 million people visited the Palace Museum, making it the most visited museum in the world.

"Cultural relics are not antiques to be housed in attics, or treasures that must remain secret," said Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum and a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. "They are cultural food, directly connected to people's livelihoods. For us, the expansion of exhibition space is a crucial step toward improving our level of service."

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