Move Comes After China Offered Free Access To Museums In 2008
After making entrance to the country’s public museums free to Chinese citizens three years ago, the Chinese government this week announced that it’s turning its attention to art galleries. In a joint statement by the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Finance, China announced that by the end of this year, there will be no charge for citizens at public art galleries at the state and provincial levels, and that all public galleries nationwide will be free by the end of 2012. The statement went on to say that finance departments at all levels “should increase investments to art galleries and libraries so they could run without charging, while also enabling them to improve basic public cultural services.”
Going a step further, the central government in Beijing announced that it will allocate new funds to subsidize the construction and operation of art galleries and libraries in the country’s less developed interior and western regions.
While private art galleries and museums are arguably where the action is in the Chinese art world, the central government has invested heavily in the construction of public venues in recent years. As Fan Di An, the conservator of the National Art Museum of China, said at the opening of the Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum last September, “Art museum construction in China is currently undergoing a booming stage.” But whether this boom actually leads to better and more arts appreciation throughout the country remains to be seen. In some cases, the building of a new art museum has been an end in itself, as in the case of the beautiful (but mostly empty) Ordos Art Museum in Inner Mongolia.