Daily visitor limit, megaphone ban for Beijing Palace Museum

Beijing’s Palace Museum, better known as the Forbidden City, has proposed a crowd-control plan that will see daily limits for visitors set at 80,000. The plan, announced Tuesday, is awaiting approval from the appropriate authorities.

Forbidden City Crowds. By Ryan McLaughlin
Forbidden City Crowds. By Ryan McLaughlin

The museum’s director, Shan Jixiang, told China Daily, “It’s a must, because our museum is too crowded during peak season. We have to be responsible for visitors’ safety.”

No specific date to kick off the new policy was announced, but Shan said it could begin as early as summer. He said there was some urgency to the plan in light of the deadly human stampede on Shanghai’s Bund on New Year’s Eve. The sheer number of visitors, along with inadequate crowd control measures, were at the root of the tragedy, he said.

More than 15 million people visited the Palace Museum in 2014, topping all museums in the world. Second on the list is the Louvre in Paris, which saw 9.2 million visitors last year.

On 42 days last year, more than 80,000 people poured into the Forbidden City, the former royal palace, which covers an area of 1.12 square kilometers at the center of Beijing. On two days, the palace received more than 140,000 visitors. [source]

Shan explained that various methods to control the numbers had been tried in the past, including shuttering the museum on Mondays, but were met with limited success. In an attempt to spread visitors more evenly throughout the year, a reduction to ticket prices in the winter low season from 40 RMB to 20 RMB (only 1/3 of the regular 60 RMB entrance fee) is being implemented.

In an additional effort to improve visitors’ experience, the museum has announced that microphones with electronic amplifiers, cherished by the museum’s throngs of commercial tour guides, will be banned from the premises starting April 1, 2015.

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