Workers at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution welcome visitors on the museum's first free-of-charge day on Saturday, March 1, 2008. [Photo: ben.com.cn]
The Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution had more than 12,000 visitors on its first free-of-charge day on Saturday, 10 times more than it normally receives daily.
The waiting queue at the museum's entrance was 50 meters long when it opened at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. The museum sold 310 tickets in the first 10 minutes, according to a report in The Beijing News.
The Military Museum is the first national museum in the Chinese capital to offer free entry after the government issued a circular on January 23 saying that all museums would offer free admission by 2009.
With previous reports suggesting that overwhelming numbers of visitors have been spoiling exhibitions at museums and memorial halls that offer free entrance to citizens in other cities, the Military Museum has undertaken certain measures to ensure the same does not occur there.
"We hand out a certain amount of tickets every other hour depending on the number of people in the museum," said Wang Ke, director of the museum's ticket office.
While visitors do not have to pay for tickets, they still must show their identity cards to get one, Wang added.
The museum widened the passages in its major halls to accommodate the influx of visitors and installed glass cases for some highly valued items. It also added 100 security guards in case of emergencies.
A mother who accompanied her child to the museum said citizens should treasure its historical artifacts more since the museum's entrance is now free of charge.
The Military Museum is China's first comprehensive museum of military history. It has nine exhibition halls showcasing a collection of more than 120,000 ancient, modern and contemporary military relics.
(CRI March 3, 2008)