Fantasy night at the museum: several museums in Beijing to extend opening hours during Spring Festival holidays
Published: Feb 08, 2021 02:04 AM

The Grand Bell Temple in Beijing Photo: CFP

To celebrate the 2021 Spring Festival and enrich the life of Beijing residents, especially those who are choosing not to travel during the holidays, several museums in the capital city will extend their opening hours to late at night as well as hold a series of cultural events. Through these events, local residents will have the chance to experience fantasy nights at these museums.

The Capital Museum announced on its official website that opening hours will be extended to 9:00 pm. During these late evening hours, visitors will be able to attend a special event introducing stories about Spring Festival customs and the history of the city's local intangible cultural heritage.

The opening hours at the Ancient Bell Museum in the Haidian district will be extended to 7:30 pm, an employee at the museum confirmed during an interview with the Global Times on Sunday.

The museum has plans for performances of ancient chimes for visitors. "There will be three performances a day," the employee said.

Ringing bells to greet the New Year is common in Chinese culture. The museum, located at the Grand Bell Temple in Beijing, a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) temple, continues to follow this custom, ringing its bells 108 times on Chinese New Year's Eve to pray for good luck entering a new year.

The employee said that they will also hold some online activities to take out of consideration for COVID-19 prevention. For example, staff at the museum will teach visitors how to make paper palace lanterns in videos on different platforms such as Douyin.

Some museums are also holding online activities to avoid creating large gatherings of visitors. A notice was published on the official website of the Palace Museum on Friday informing visitors that a variety of events focusing on red, an auspicious color used throughout the architecture of the Forbidden City, will be presented online each day during the holidays.

The Palace Museum will use various means including photos, videos, mobile games and online exhibitions to present the events.

A temple originally belonging to a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) eunuch will also extend its opening hours to 7:30 pm. The extension means there will be more time to perform one of the most ancient types of music in China - Jing music, which originated during the Ming Dynasty and has not changed in more than 600 years.

The music is mainly composed of wind instruments, supplemented by percussion instruments such as cloud gongs, drums and chimes. It inherits the essence of Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) Dynasty music. The 27th generation of inheritors will play the music for visitors for free.

Not all museums in the city have prepared festival events. One employee at the Old Summer Palace told the Global Times on Sunday that due to the pandemic, they will temporarily not hold any activities during the Spring Festival holidays.