Museums in China have attracted more and more visitors since 2008, when the country began to make many of its nearly 4,700 registered museums free to the public. China now has over 4,000 museums with free entry.
The Geological Museum in Taiyuan, the capital of north China's Shanxi Province, began offering free entry on May 1 and thousands of visitors have been arriving every day. The number of visitors is expected to grow even further.
Deng Yao, a guide at the Shanxi Geological Museum, says the museum is most popular at weekends, when around 6,000 people visit each day.
In neighboring Shanxi Museum, the number of yearly visitors has increased five times since it started a free entry policy in 2008.
Li Ping, director of the publicity department of Shanxi Museum, says there is increasing interest in the museum and visitors come from all walks of life.
As the number of visitors continues to grow, museums often initiate visitor flow control measures to ensure safety and comfort for all. Some may worry that more visitors would affect the service quality in museums.
But many museums say the growing number of visitors has actually propelled them to do better.
Li Ping says the museum has started a more thorough service satisfaction survey among visitors and intensified service training since opening to the public for free.
And Deng Yao also says more visitors mean more interactions, which often make guides feel excited and give better presentations to visitors.
According to the China Cultural Relics Bureau, the country has nearly 4,700 museums. Over 85 percent of them are now free for the public to visit.
Zhao Shuguang is the head of the museum department of Shanxi Cultural Relics Bureau. He pointed out that the biggest significance of the free entry policy is that it has stopped Chinese museums being places that only few people visit. Now the museums have been put on a grassroots level so that anyone could visit.
Zhao also revealed that China has provided special funds and subsidies to support the policy. It's definitely a good way to enhance the national quality.
China's Cultural Relics Bureau plans to build more museums, while also aiming to have 800 million visits per year nationwide to all the museums by 2020. Hopes are that more people will have the opportunity to visit cultural centers, so that they can have a better understanding of their country.