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33 museums in Beijing to start free admission
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With its magnificent architecture, abundant exhibitions, advanced technology and complete functions, the Capital Museum, large and modern, makes its contribution to the titles such as "famous historical and cultural city," "cultural center" and "international metropolis" of Beijing and ranks among the first class museums both at home and abroad. (File Photo)

Starting from this coming Friday, 33 museums in Beijing will be open to visitors free of charge, with some taking new measures to prevent chaos during the expected visitor boom.

In the Capital Museum, visitors have to book tickets using their real names beforehand, said Han Yong, deputy curator.

"The designed daily receiving capacity of the museum is 3,000,"he said. "Visitors should bring their ID cards to get the free tickets."

The Chinese government has planned to realize free admission at state-run museums in March, but the problems at the Fujian Provincial Museum, which was among the first batch to offer free admission, has shown that the museum was ill-prepared for such volume of visitors. Quite a few exhibits, including an elephant specimen, were damaged.

The museums to start free admission in Beijing include public museums and memorial halls belonging to municipal or district cultural and heritage protection departments, as well as patriotic educational bases at municipal level.

Most of the 33 museums in Beijing will impose an upper limit for visitors every day by distributing a certain number of tickets, said Kong Fanzhi, head of the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage.

Historical architecture and sites like the Forbidden City are not on the list of free admission venues, he added.

China has more than 2,300 museums, which received 150 million people last year. Before April 1 free admission will be extended to 600 museums, while the number is expected to grow to 1,400 next year, according to Zhang Bai, deputy director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

Citizens look at the furniture made during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties at Shanghai Museum in Shanghai of China on March 10, 2008, the first day that four museums and memorial halls in the city begin to offer free entry. (Xinhua/Pei Xin)

(Xinhua News Agency March 24, 2008)

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