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August 29, 2012

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City funds to help keep private museums afloat

SHANGHAI'S cultural heritage authority yesterday began offering funds and other assistance to private museums that are facing tremendous hardships, forcing some to close.

Local private museums, especially those open to the public for free, can receive at most 800,000 yuan (US$125,840) this year in subsidies for daily operations, exhibitions and research works, the Shanghai Administration of Cultural Heritage announced yesterday.

"All the private museums can be subsidized as long as they comply with the subsidy standards and apply to the administration by September 14," said Chu Xiaobo, deputy director of the administration.

Professionals with the administration can also help private museum operators evaluate exhibits and establish archives for them as well as help in preserving historic exhibits, he said.

Museums also can apply to the fund for subsidies to launch exhibitions, renovation and upgrades, or to publish books or promotion pamphlets.

However, owners who receive the funds must open to the public for at least 180 days and must report to the administration annually. A jury decides on offering funds and the amount.

"The aid came just in time to us," said the operator of the Liuli China Museum, a private glassware museum run by a Taiwan couple.

It operated in Xintiandi from its opening in 2006 until it closed in 2008 due to lack of money. It reopened on Taikang Road in 2010 and became the first local private museum to receive funds and other help from the administration in a trial operation last year.

Private museums emerged in the city in the mid-1980s and thrived in the 1990s. More than 200 family-run museums have appeared in the city. But amid soaring rents and labor costs they have met harder times since 2000 and half have died out, said the Shanghai Collection Association.

"Tight budgets, lack of successors and relocation to rural areas in the urban construction campaign caused the closure of private museums, including the abacus museum and postcard museum," said Wu Shaohua, director of the association.


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