Palace Museum 'passes' enthusiasm test

Photo taken with a mobile phone shows a view in the Palace Museum in Beijing, Sept 1, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

When the Palace Museum announced that 50,000 annual passes would be available for sale online from Dec 1 to 31 for the approaching year, 2022, they had no idea they would get swamped.

Such was the mad scramble for passes, costing 300 yuan each, that the online system crashed on Dec 1. The Palace Museum announced that they had underestimated the visitors' enthusiasm.

When the online window reopened a day later, the annual passes got sold out within hours, indicative of the rising enthusiasm among the young to visit museums. And this is happening after the Palace Museum increased the number of annual passes from 20,000 in the previous years to 50,000 in 2022. In fact, museum visits are suddenly so popular that the authorities are limiting entry to 80,000 visitors a day.

During the National Holiday week, or when it snows, these 80,000 tickets get sold out within hours.

The enthusiasm reflects growing curiosity and interest among the Chinese people for their history and culture. In fact, some of the Palace Museum visitors turn up in traditional Chinese hanfu.

The imposing Palace Museum complex, also called Forbidden City, with its huge collection of paintings, calligraphy, ceramics, and antiquities, is one of the most prestigious museums in China and the world.

What makes it so popular among visitors is the constant innovation going on there, not to forget the relatively low entre fee – 60 yuan during peak season and 40 yuan during off season. The Palace Museum is restoring its cultural relics, even recreating them. For example, the modern design adorned by Emperor Yongzheng and other intellectual property products have caught the attention of young visitors. They are just as interested in the themed products on sale there, ranging from lipsticks to tea cups, to postcards and phone cases.

A few days ago, the Palace Museum announced that juveniles would henceforth be allowed free entry. This will help children improve their knowledge of history, as well as boost their cultural confidence.

There's so much visitors can look forward to at the museum, literally a showcasing of 5,000 years of Chinese civilization and history, including 600 years of the Forbidden City itself. And all it takes to access it is to gain entry, whether with a ticket or an annual pass.

The author is a writer with China Daily.