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Showcasing a rich heritage

By Wang Kaihao | China Daily | Updated: 2018-03-13 08:37
An ancient bronze tripod is displayed at the National Museum of China during a show.[Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily]

Chinese museums currently attract 900 million annual visits. And with more museums opening up, the footfalls are set to keep growing. Wang Kaihao reports.

As vice-president of the International Council of Museums, or ICOM, An Laishun is well placed to talk about how Chinese museums have grown in the past decades.

He clearly remembers the days when he started working with the international museum community in 1986.

"We felt quite special then," he says. "Museums abroad then looked at Chinese museums with a kind of awe because China had just opened to the outside world."

It was a good thing, he says, because the curiosity meant that the foreign institutions wanted to know more about Chinese cultural heritage and gradually established links.

ICOM, founded in 1946 in Paris, France, is the world's most important non-governmental organization for museum professionals. "Now, China's (cultural) heritage sector plays a very dynamic and active role in this body," says An.

Currently, ICOM's only international training center for museum studies is at the Palace Museum in Beijing, also known as the Forbidden City.

An says that China's global influence in the field is mainly due to the fact that the country is the fastest-growing in terms of museums.

According to the statistics from the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, there were 3,866 museums on the Chinese mainland as of 2012, and the number grew to 4,873 by 2016, which means a new museum opened in China every one and half days.

The administration also says Chinese museums now annually attract 900 million visits.

Another indication of the thriving museum scene is that during the ongoing two sessions in Beijing, as many as 12 members in literary and art circles of the 13th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, come from museums and cultural heritage administrations or related academic institutions, the highest number to date.

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