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The Palace Museum welcomed 100 million visitors over the six-year period from January 2012 through 22 June 2018. According to the information provided by the Museum’s ticketing system, the 100 millionth ticket was purchased by a visitor with the surname Lin from Sichuan Province who entered the Museum at nine o’clock that morning. This impressive quantity is the result of a trend of increasing numbers of visitors; in 2012, the Museum welcomed a record-breaking 15 million visitors.
The administration of the Palace Museum has always stressed the importance of managing the flow of visitors in order to guarantee the safety of the Forbidden City and the visitors themselves. Beginning in 2012, the administration began conducting experimental controls, social surveys, and media campaigns designed to balance the contrasting numbers of visitors during the low and peak seasons, holidays, and regular work days. On 13 June 2015, the daily visitor-capacity was limited to 80,000. As a result, the previous problem of high-capacity days with 100,000 to 180,000 visitors was solved, and visitors have been able to enjoy a more dignified tour.
From 2011 to 2014, only about 2% of tickets was purchased via the online ticketing system. With the steady increase of visitor numbers and added pressure on the on-site ticketing personnel, with such mechanism it was impossible to effectively monitor visitor flow and refine management methods. Thus continuous improvements were made to the ticketing system, and a variety of purchasing methods were made available. Additionally, special discounts and year-passes made available through the online system encouraged the use of non-traditional modes of purchase. By 2015, online ticket sales had reached 17% of total sales; that number grew to 41% in 2016. During the week-long National Holiday (1 October) vacation of 2017, the Museum instituted exclusively-online ticket sales, which pushed the percentage of online ticket sales to 100%. The Museum’s Director Shan Jixiang said that his administration will continue to improve the ticketing system and by the following year tickets will be sold for various time slots.
Over the past six years, the Palace Museum’s administration has continued to restore the heritage architecture of the Forbidden City and, consequently, opened up more areas to visitors. In 2012, only 30% of the City was open for visiting. By 2017, the visiting area had reached 76%. With the increased visiting area, the Museum has also expanded the types of exhibitions and attractions. These offerings are influential among the scholarly world and are becoming highly popular among general visitors.
Soon, the area around the South Storehouses in the southwest sector of the Forbidden City will be opened to the public for the first time. This long-awaited development will include gallery space to showcase historical furniture and increase the visiting area to over 80% for the first time in the Museum’s history.
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Zhuang Ying with contributions by Xu Bingbin