Planet China

Free at last

Free at last

The decision to get rid of Shanghai Art Museum’s entrance fee has had unforeseen consequences. “At the beginning, when the museum opened for free, some people came into the museum’s washrooms to wash the vegetables they bought from a nearby market,” says the museum’s publicist. According to the investigative team at the China Daily, toilet usage has also been greater than anticipated: cleaners were having to replace the loo paper roll four times an hour, the newspaper reported.

But overall the decision to scrap the Rmb20 ($3) entrance fee seems to have been a success. Around 12,099 visitors entered free of charge on Saturday, versus a usual average of 1,500. Almost all had never been before. A man with his 10 year-old told the newspaper: “I think it’s good for my son to learn something about art. It’s good that we can visit the museum free of charge.” In February the Ministry of Culture vowed that all public art galleries will be free within two years.

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