The number of registered museums in China has increased to about 3,600 by the end of 2011 and is still growing by about 100 every year. Although it's a prominent increase compared with those in the past, it is not massive to China with a population of 1.3 billion. On average, every 400,000 people have one museum in China, but the figure is 50,000 in developed countries.
However, among these 3000 museums, quite a number are deserted and even difficult to survive. Many places are busy in museum constructions but negligent in devoting human and material resources to their maintenance.
This phenomenon is inevitably correlated with the fact that some places do not regard museums as public welfare buildings that provide people with cultural, educational, learning and entertaining services; but rather as furnishings for political achievements. Such museums, with glossy appearance but no essence, only make visitors feel dull and increase the financial burden of the local government.
In addition, one cannot overlook the fact that most of our museums still rely on government funding for their maintenance. However, limited funding is insufficient to maintain the huge daily overheads. Many museums rely on the institutional system for a long time; they cannot attract visitors with their obsolete operating mode, rigid management, and old fashioned exhibits. Such museums, regarded as mere "achievement furnishings", cannot provide the public with cultural services; on the contrary, they require the taxpayers to bear the costs.
In order to change the difficult situation faced by museums, the relevant departments should take measures to encourage museums to seek for diversified financing channels and operational modes by adopting market principles, so as to enhance their economic strength and at the same time enrich the exhibition contents. In this way, more and more museums will ultimately be able to break through the encirclement, achieve sound development, and provide the public with better cultural services.