Nighttime museums make people’s cultural life more splendid

By Chen Yuanyuan, People’s Daily

Have you ever visited a museum at night?

China’s Zhejiang Museum of Natural History has brought this brand-new experience to its visitors during the summer vacation this year, operating 24 hours on weekends.

Over 300 animal, plant and mineral specimens of Zhejiang province were displayed in the museum, and there was also a Metaverse hall that displayed a wide range of collections. It was a great place for citizens to spend their time in after dinner.

Apart from the Zhejiang museum, many museums across China have extended their opening hours to late night. The extended opening hours mirror people’s rising demand for culture and their aspiration for a better life.

Children watch mineral specimens at Zhejiang Museum of Natural History, June 2022. (Photo by LianGuoqing/People’s Daily Online)

For 9-5ers, night time means a great period to relax and learn after a long day of tiring work. Museums opening at night have created a fantastic opportunity for them to get closer to the cultural life.

The Museum of Yangtze-River Crossing Campaign in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei province, was open on the night of each Friday and Saturday between July 8 and Aug. 31 this year. It was visited by many citizens taking a walk after dinner.

The number of visitors to the museum more than doubled on the first day it extended opening hours. The popularity indicated people’s aspiration for more flexible opening hours of museums.

The upgrading services of museums mirrored their efforts to expand the supply of high-quality cultural resources. The nighttime operation brought different experiences to visitors, as the shades presented unique views. It is very attractive to the public and enjoys huge potential.

People read books in a 24-hour book store in Nanjing, east China’s Jiangsu province, June 2019. (Photo by Xu Congjun/People’s Daily Online)

However, nighttime operation cannot be made prevalent overnight. A few extended opening hours need not only extra manpower, but also well-coordinated efforts in ensuring heritage security, event planning and management. In other words, whether a museum is able to run high-quality exhibitions and activities determines its appeal to the public, and tests the capability of its operators.

In recent years, nighttime culture is prospering across China, further enhancing the cultural appeal of cities. For instance, Beijing has extended the opening hours of theaters, libraries and book stores, and Shanghai is offering diverse courses for its citizens at night schools. It reflects cities’ responsibility in upgrading public cultural services and makes people’s life even better.

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