Visitors to Hong Kong museums hit a record in 2017 after entrance fees are waived

Nearly 7 million people visited various sites with free entry to permanent exhibitions at five venues

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 March, 2018, 9:03am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 March, 2018, 9:03am

A record 6.9 million people visited Hong Kong’s museums last year, up by more than half on 2016, after many entrance fees were waived.

Director of Leisure and Cultural Services Michelle Li Mei-sheung said on Thursday that the encouraging attendance was a result of the free entry.

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Since August 2016, the government has granted free entry to permanent exhibitions at five venues – the Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence and the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum.

The Hong Kong Science Museum’s entrance fee has been lowered by 20 per cent.

The increase in attendance was particularly obvious at the history museum, which saw a 90 per cent hike in traffic, Li said. The total attendance at museums in 2016 was 4.5 million.

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She admitted the museums had generated less income, but said money was not the department’s top priority.

“Money is not key, it is to promote culture,” she said.

Most visitors had been satisfied with their experience, according to Li, and 70 per cent indicated they would return in a year.

The most popular exhibition last year, entitled “Eternal Life – Exploring Ancient Egypt”, attracted over 850,000 people to the science museum before it ended in October.

Li said that the department will host over 40 cultural and leisure events this year, with the highlight being a Dunhuang-themed exhibition scheduled for July to October at the heritage museum.

Museum director Fione Lo Sau-lai said the exhibition will make use of projection and virtual reality technology to give visitors a more up close and personal experience.

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While a Dunhuang-themed exhibition was shown in the city in 2014, Lo said it featured cave replicas.

The new exhibition will use high-resolution scans provided by the Dunhuang Research Academy, which Lo said looked identical to the actual caves.

Visitors will be able to view the famed Wutai Mountain mural that was painted in Mogao Cave 61 in full for the first time, and extensive information will also be provided.

“We hope to show people how they can walk into Wutai Mountain,” Lo said.

According to its website, the research academy has processed images collected from 58 caves in its efforts to preserve them digitally.