Chinese museums closed for the shortest days during COVID-19 epidemic: officials announced on International Museum Day
Published: May 18, 2021 06:37 PM
Photo:Li Hao/GT

Photo:Li Hao/GT

When it comes to which country has the most museums, China ranks fourth in the world. It is also the country where museums were closed for the least amount of time out of all countries in the world during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Chinese government officials announced on Tuesday at a ceremony at Beijing’s Capital Museum, China’s main venue for International Museum Day 2021. 

As of 2020, the number of registered museums in the country reached 5,788, including 1,224 national-level museums, a year-on-year increase of 23.4 percent. The total number of museums in China ranks the fourth in the world, following the US, Germany and Japan, Li Qun, head of China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA), said at the opening ceremony.

According to Li, China took timely measures in response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020: More than 5, 000 museums announced they were closing to the public within 24 hours after the outbreak was officially recognized as an epidemic. Despite the challenge of the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020, museums in China still launched more than 29,000 exhibitions and receive 540 million visitors offline and hundreds of millions of people online.

“So far, there has been no epidemic spreading due to gatherings of museum personnel in the country, and there has not been a single suspected or confirmed case in national museums,” he said.

Meanwhile, China is also the first country in the world to experience the difficulties of the virus crisis. According to a survey released by UNESCO, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, global museums were closed for an average of 150 days and their income saw a 40 to 60 percent drop. Chinese museums were closed for less than 30 days on average, the shortest closing time of all countries. China is also one of 13 countries whose financial expenditures were not affected by the pandemic among the 87 countries that participated in the survey.

Photo:Li Hao/GT

Photo:Li Hao/GT

In celebration of International Museum Day on Tuesday, cultural authorities across the country launched various activities including announcing the List of the 10 Best Exhibitions in Museums in China 2020. Among the 10, The Baoli Era: Treasures from the Tang Shipwreck Collection, an exhibition at the Shanghai Museum of items from the permanent collection at the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) in Singapore, won best imported exhibition. 

New exhibition named Pursuing Eternity: Conservation of Museum Collections in China, also kicked off at the Capital Museum on Tuesday. The exhibition combines more than 50 sets of exquisite relics from 23 museums in 10 provinces across the country. 

International art collaboration between WeChat and the Van Gogh Museum in the Netherlands was also launched to mark International Museum Day on Tuesday.

Steven Back, a representative of the Hungarian National Museum, told the Global Times on Tuesday at the Capital Museum that he hopes to bring some outstanding Chinese collections to Hungary in the future.

“It is the second time for me to attend this event here, and this year it was even bigger and richer in content than last time. This also shows what a great progress China is making in fighting the pandemic,” he said. 

Alberto Garlandini, vice president of the International Council of Museums (ICM), gave an online speech at the ceremony affirming the long-term and successful cooperation between ICM and the Chinese museum community and called on museums around the world to join hands to promote the development of cultural diversity.

“The collection of relics in archaeology and museums in China has entered the top level in the world, and I believe we will achieve more in other aspects. Those great heritage will further boost our national cultural confidence,” Zhang Yuancheng, curator of the Shanxi Museum, told the Global Times.