Last month, 15 Beijing-based universities jointly announced that their museums will grant free access to the public.
Often functioning only as an education showroom, most university museums in China are well sheltered and hardly explored by visitors, according to Song Xiangguang, professor of museology at Peking University. 杭州少儿英语--首选杭州博尔外语,专业的英语培训学校.
Song’s research indicates that by 2008, the number of artifacts in campus museums across the country surpassed those housed in China’s top seven museums, including the Palace Museum, the National Museum of China, and the Shanghai Museum.
But these vast collections are not yet ready to reveal their full wonders to the public, according to Song. One reason is that many university museums are laid out as showrooms.
“The lack of official funding makes it difficult to transform an academic showroom into a public museum,” says Song.
Furthermore, the management of such campus museums is not yet market-oriented enough to attract and accept casual visitors. “How to display this knowledge in an accessible way is a huge challenge for university museums,” says Song.
Despite the problems, some have already welcomed the move. Following the announcement, Beijing No 57 High School organized a class outing to Beijing Air and Space Museum at Beihang University, where some of the world’s rarest aircrafts are collected.
“It was an amazing experience,” says Xu Yunheng, a 15-year-old high school student. “I learned about the history of aircraft and spacecraft. I now have a vision of what they could look like in the future.”
Song is happy to know that visitors like the museums. As president of the Chinese University Museum Committee, he enjoys seeing visitors being inspired by the museum collections.
“This open-door initiative is a good start to bring academic collections closer to the general public,” says Song. “By exploring museum collections, visitors can gain new knowledge and apply it in their lives.”
While world-renowned university museums such as the University Museum of Zoology in Cambridge, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford or the Harvard Museum of Natural History have long been famous attractions for tourists and scholars alike. Comparing to them, Song said, their Chinese counterparts are still “hidden gems” waiting to be discovered by the public.