Museums in Xi'an: The Renovation of Public Services
   2013-01-15 12:39:35    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Liu Kun

The photo taken on January 8, 2013, shows Pit 1 of the Terracotta Warriors and horses at Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com/Liu Kun]

Museums in Xi'an are striving to offer a more visitor-friendly environment with interactive activities so domestic and foreign tourists alike can better absorb ancient Chinese culture.

With China's economic boom, more people are willing to pay to get educated or be entertained. This includes visits to museums, which have spiked in recent years especially in Xi'an in northwestern China's Shaanxi Province, which had been the capital of 13 dynasties and is home to hundreds of thousands of ancient relics.

The city now has some 94 museums ranging from comprehensive, state-owned museums to specialized, privately owned ones. The first museum in Xi'an opened in 1909 and featured a collection of western industrial products brought in by westerners in the hope of educating the nation about the coming modern age.

About 5 million people visited the city's best-known museum-the Terracotta Warriors Museum-last year. Curators there are now developing a service package for visitors, including interactive activities and more comfortable facilities.

"We want everyone to understand the museum and find his own excitement during his visit," said Tian Jing, Deputy Director of the Terracotta Warriors Museum, also known as Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum.

Tian said the museum provides mobile phone charging stations, resting benches and photography tips for visitors. Disabled visitors can book appointments with guides before visiting the museum.

Nong Qian who works for the museum's public relations department, added that on rainy days visitors could wrap their umbrellas in small plastic bags at the building's entrance.

When asked about the museum's future plans for public service, Tian cited the museum's goal to diversify its functions.

"We want our museum to be a place not only for exhibiting, but also for learning and for entertaining," he said.

The Shaanxi History Museum has undertaken similar measures to attract more visitors.

Pei Jianping, Deputy Director of the Shaanxi History Museum, said the facility had created a visitors' questionnaire to collect feedback. Those touring the museum can find a paper questionnaire on a desk next to the exit or complete an electronic questionnaire on interactive touchpads.

The Shaanxi History Museum also has created its own visitors' club called the "Friends of the Shaanxi History Museum." Club members can engage in annual exchange activities with museums in Taiwan as well as other leisure activities.

Ding Yuhong, a graduate of Zhejiang Ocean University who was visiting the Shaanxi History Museum, said the exhibit summary card was not informative enough for her to understand the stories behind the exhibits.

Pei Jianping said he was well aware of the problem and that the museum had set up interactive touchpads and produced videos and books about the museum for visitors.

As Xi'an has always been a top destination for foreign visitors, museums there have stepped up their efforts to present more information in English and other languages.

One visitor from the United States said he found the English spoken by tour guides and written on information displays in Xi'an museums was generally good and easy to understand compared to other places.  

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