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March 6, 2011

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Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

Free admission policy lures crowd to museum

THE Shanghai Art Museum attracted long queues early in the morning yesterday, the first day it opened to the public for free.

The museum's staff did not expect such a rush as 12,099 people visited the venue.

An average of 1,000 people visit the museum each day and the previous attendance record was 10,000, set during the Shanghai Biennale in 2008.

The first person in line was a 64-year-old retired worker, who said she got up at 4:30am so she would be able to see the museum's collection of paintings and other art.

The queue comprised mostly retired people.

Li Lei, the museum's director and also a painter, was surrounded by a group of people asking for him to autograph their tickets.

"We didn't expect such a big crowd on the first day," Li said. "We figured at most 1,500 visitors would turn up."

The museum has set a daily visitor limit of 5,000 now that admission is free although this was waived yesterday because it was the first day, Li said.

The museum has also improved security by hiring more guards and setting up a 1-meter perimeter around each piece of art.

Few options

"When I passed by here this morning, I was shocked that the long queue extended to Shanghai Grand Theater," said Fanny Peng, a 32-year-old office worker.

"At first, I didn't know why. It was a bit insane, but it just shows how there are so few entertainment options for older people," Peng said.

The museum's ongoing exhibitions include the work of He Muqun, a Chinese female artist who once lived in France.

A joint exhibition features pieces by Lin Fengmian and Wu Guanzhong, two masters in modern Chinese art.

Museum spokeswoman Zhang Hong said queues seem to attract even more people

"The psychology of the local people here is rather interesting," she said.

"It seems as though more people join when they see a long queue because they think there is a big attraction inside.

"The two ongoing exhibitions will not end soon, so there is still plenty of time for people to see the artwork," Zhang added.

The Shanghai Art Museum dropped its admission fee after the central government stipulated that museums and galleries across the country should gradually open to the public for free.


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