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33 Museums in Beijing to Start Free Admission

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.

(Xinhua News Agency March 25, 2008)

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