Hangzhou makes changes to museum hours to accommodate more visitors

Wu Huixin
The number of museum visitors from 2017 to 2019 was about 1.5 million and neared 6 million between 2020 and 2022. Numbers skyrocketed to 5 million during the first half of 2023.
Wu Huixin

The "museum craze" looks set to continue with popular parent-child "museum tours" heating up citywide during the summer vacation.

According to Hangzhou government, the number of visitors to museums from 2017 to 2019 was about 1.5 million, and it reached around 6 million between 2020 and 2022. However, visitor numbers skyrocketed to 5 million during the first half of 2023.

In a bid to meet market demand and ease crowding, the government officially issued an adjustment plan for the opening hours of 52 state-owned museums citywide, dividing them into three categories for implementation.

Previously, all museums and galleries were closed on Mondays. From July 31, the first category will open every day; the second will close on Tuesdays and the final category will continue to close on Mondays.

The first category of museums requires comparatively small financial investment, venues and a small number of exhibits, but with easily accessible locations and convenient transportation.

Such museums are mainly located downtown and in the West Lake scenic areas. Included in this category are the Yue Fei Memorial Hall, Yu Quyuan Memorial Hall, Lianheng Memorial Hall, Zhejiang 1911 Revolution Memorial Hall, Former Residence of Lin Fengmian, Former Residence of Gai Jiaotian, Former Residence of Du Jinsheng, Ma Yifu Memorial Hall, Li Shutong Memorial Hall, Qiantang River Bridge Exhibition Hall, and the Memorial Hall of the Former Hangzhou Site of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea.

Hangzhou makes changes to museum hours to accommodate more visitors
Yang Qiuhong

Curator Wei Zhuting gives an on-site tour for visitors at the China National Silk Museum for the exhibition "Convergence of Civilizations: Dunhuang on the Silk Road," which runs through August 22. The number of visitors to the museum has skyrocketed since the start of the summer vacation.

The second type of museums often require large financial investment, large venues and a number of antiques, and are mainly situated at the West Lake scenic areas, the Grand Canal and Wushan Hill.

Even if those museums close on Tuesdays, there are still many other venues around for visitors to visit, since these areas boast abundant cultural heritage sites.

The second category contains the Hangzhou Museum, Hangzhou Confucian Temple, Southern Song Dynasty Site Exhibition Hall, Hangzhou Arts and Crafts Museum, Chinese Knives, Scissors and Swords Museum, Chinese Umbrella Museum, Chinese Fan Museum, Former Residence of John Leighton Stuart, Hangzhou West Lake Museum, Southern Song Dynasty Guan Kiln Museum, Hangzhou Zhang Taiyan Memorial Hall, Hangzhou Su Dongpo Memorial Hall, Tang Yun Art Museum, Yu Qian Temple, China Tea Museum and Han Meilin Art Gallery.

The remaining museums will maintain their original opening hours, and continue to close on Mondays.

They include the Hangzhou Seawall Site Museum, Southern Song Deshou Palace Site Museum, Xia Yan Former Residence, Hangzhou Local History Museum, China Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal Museum, China Wetland Museum, China Seal Museum, "May 4th Constitution" Historical Materials Exhibition Hall, Hangzhou West Lake Expo Museum, Hangzhou History Museum of the Communist Party of China, China Animation Museum, Xiaoshan Museum, Kuahu Bridge Site Museum, Liangzhu Palace, Zhang Taiyan Former Residence Memorial Hall, Linping District Museum, Fuyang District Museum, Zhejiang Surrender Memorial Hall for the Victory of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, Lin'an District Museum, Tonglu County Museum, Ye Qianyu Art Museum, Chun'an County Museum and Jiande County Museum.

The new measure ensures that there are museums open every day, and should ease crowding during holidays.

For instance, when people are sightseeing at the West Lake, they could visit the Yue Fei Memorial Hall, Southern Song Dynasty Guan Kiln Museum, China Tea Museum and Han Meilin Art Museum on a Monday, and then tour the China Seal Museum, China National Silk Musuem and Hangzhou West Lake Expo Museum the following day.

The measure is an innovative pilot in exploring museums' resources, which is at the forefront of all cities across the country.

During the past 20 years, Hangzhou's museums have repeatedly introduced innovative measures.

In 2003, the city announced it would open its museums free of charge, and was the first city in China to do so. In 2008, Hangzhou government formulated and promoted the "Hangzhou Youth Students Second Classroom Plan," which turned museums into education bases for young people.

In addition, museums will continue to explore night-time and 24-hour opening modes, and strive to optimize the visitor experience with limited financial investments.

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