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Another 1,200 museums open for free by 2009

In addition to the over 600 state-owned museums and memorial halls that have already opened free to the public, China will soon add another 1,200 free public museums to cater to the needs of its culture-hungry population by the end of 2009, China News Service reports.

Zhang Bai, deputy director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, says all state-owned museums, with the exception of a few, will open free to the public by the end of the 2009, at which point free museums will account for half of the total museums in China.

The few museums that cannot open for free, like the Palace Museum in Beijing and the Qin Shi Huang Terracotta Warriors Museum in Xi'an, will lower their ticket prices.

The Ministry of Culture and the State Administration of Cultural Heritage launched a free admission museum policy early this year, in a bid to provide access to culture to more Chinese citizens.

China has over 2,400 state-owned or private museums, which had received 23 million visitors by the end of May, double the figure that of last year, according to statistics released by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.