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Make Museum Admission Free
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Free access to public museums is both necessary and feasible in China, says a commentary of Beijing Youth Daily. An excerpt follows:

Museums around the country offered free tours to visitors last Friday as part of International Museum Day. The public responded warmly and swarmed into the museums.

As interest grows in museums of all kinds, people are no longer content with once-a-year free access on International Museum Day.

As a product of economic, cultural and social development, public museums should offer their services to the public without profit. Free access to public museums should be offered to all.

The museums are meant to collect, preserve and study the items of high value in history, art or culture, relaying their value to the public through display.

Free entrance to public museums has become a wide practice for museums around the world to give full play to museum functions.

The top museums in Britain, including the British Museum, the National Gallery and the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, have all been free to visit since the year 2000. The British government set up a special fund to subsidize the museums and State aid is also given to these institutes.

The provincial museum based in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, and the China Silk Museum in the same city announced their permanent free access to the public three years ago. The government of Shenzhen in Guangdong Province has also decided to grant free access to seven public facilities starting in February.

The practices in the two cities are solid proof that free access to museums is feasible when the State or local government has enough financial strength.

(China Daily May 22, 2007)

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