Local museums proved more popular with locals and tourists in 2017, especially sites where the earliest Communist Party of China (CPC) congresses were held.
About 22 million visitors visited the city's 125 museums last year, a 3 percent increase on 2016, the Shanghai Cultural Heritage Administration said in its annual report. It noted that 80 percent of the city's museums are free of charge.
The site of the CPC's first National Congress received twice as many visitors as in 2016, especially following the 19th National Congress and a visit on October 31 by Xi Jinping and six other members of the Politburo Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee.
The downtown site has an exhibition space of 450 square meters and features 148 historic exhibits and photographs. It received an average of 5,673 visitors a day last year, according to the administration.
Over 250,000 visitors went to the site after Xi's visit, and the daily peak reached around 7,200, said Shi Tong, director of the administration's museums management department. Meanwhile, larger crowds of visitors were seen at the sites of the second and fourth national congresses, Shi said.
Another popular site was Shanghai Museum, which attracted a record 2.1 million visitors in 2017, the administration said.
A three-month exhibition by the British Museum received nearly 400,000 visitors. Long queues were seen every day during the exhibition. Entry is free but the museum sets a daily maximum of 8,000 visitors.
The number of museums in Shanghai is on a par with London and Paris, but Shanghai lacks museums of global influence, Shi said.
In addition, most local museums are scattered around and form no influential groupings unlike those in Washington D.C., Berlin and Paris's Old Town, Shi said.
The city government has been planning several groupings of museums at places such as People's Square and the former World Expo 2010 Puxi site along the Huangpu River, according to the administration.
Shanghai World Expo Museum opened to the public on May 1 at the former Expo site.
The museum, spread over 40,000 square meters near Lupu Bridge, showcases the history of world expos since 1851 — when Britain launched the Great Exhibition.
A new international table tennis museum will open early this year beside the Expo museum.
Another new museum about China's earliest industries is at the planning stage, the administration said.
Elsewhere in Pudong, a branch of the Shanghai Museum will be built in the Huamu area. It will work in concert with the main site downtown.