Hunan Provicial Museum

Xiaobao Liu

Hunan Provincial Museum

No.50 Dong Feng Road, Changsha, Hunan Province, 410005

ChangSha, China
Chinese Museum Association, Management Award 2011

Making Efforts to Fulfill the Social Responsibility and Mission Entrusted to Us by Our Time
- The Practice of Free Entrance at Hunan Provincial Museum

The establishment of the concept of serving the public is one of the important symbols that differentiate a modern museum from a traditional one. We have fully realized that after a museum has adopted the practice of free entrance, its sociality and publicity will become more prominent. Living in this great age, people of the museum circle should take a more proactive attitude and try their best to provide complete and high-quality service to the visitors.
The following are the main experiences we have gained from our practice:

Extending quality service to the last visitor waiting in line for a free ticket

In order to maintain order and ensure the safety of visitors and cultural relics, we have divided the visitor's experience into the three stages of obtaining a ticket, waiting for entrance and actual visiting, and adopted the operational method of timed ticket-obtainment and grouped entrance. In order to eliminate any blind spot in our service, we guide the visitors in their visit by means of the broadcasting system, electronic signs and bulletin boards on the basis of the needs and feedbacks of the audience. We provide green channel to the aged, the weak, the sick, the handicapped and the pregnant; we provide free drinking water, simple first-aid medicine and deposit service; we provide free prams, wheelchairs and walking sticks; we also patiently carry out explanatory and persuasive efforts to our visitors so as to defuse potential conflicts. In order to meet people's desire of visiting the museum, we have started a telephone and online advance booking system. We provide different time slots for those visitors whose schedules are in conflict with their allotted time of visiting the museum. We persuade and evacuate visitors standing in line when the daily allotted free tickets are almost running out. We provide flexible tickets to non-local visitors as long as they can show their return train/plane tickets. We increase the number of free tickets at peak visiting times and advance our opening hour to 8:30 during high tourist seasons, accompanied by more windows to increase the speed of issuing tickets. Our people-based service is also reflected in our attention to various subtleties: we sincerely provide any help within our power to visitors in need of information; on rainy days, our staff will hold umbrellas and accompany visitors all the way to their cars or buses; we take the initiative to assist the aged or the handicapped and guide them to take the convenient channels. To ensure the long-term stability and sustaining high level of our service quality, our frontline departments hold daily quality control meetings and come up with timely solutions to any problem or new issue that has appeared.

Providing professional service to those visitors who have turned from "watching the fun" to "appreciating culture"

Since implementing the policy of free entrance, Hunan Provincial Museum has actively put in place innovative projects under the new situation, truly paid attention to what visitors can discover, experience and learn at the museum, and made rewarding attempts at providing professional service to visitors who have changed from "watching the fun" to "appreciating culture". We have established a guide system that includes experts, professional docents, volunteers and guided who have received museum training, and pioneered in China in providing free guides and explanations of The Exhibit of the Han Tombs at Mawangdui to every group of visitors. Experiences have proven that such a method is a highly effective, operational and scientific service mode that came into being in the new situation of free entrance, which not only helps us to efficiently guide and organize the visitors and maintain order, but also helps the visitors to reach correct cultural understanding and enrich their museum experience. At the same time, our museum has actively incorporated museum education into the national education system, to the effect that it has become an important part of our educational work for school teacher to use our resources for history and art teaching activities.

Paying attention to diversity and promoting participation so as to build a new museum cultural ecology

On the basis of our unique collections, we have put up five permanent exhibits with The Exhibit of the Han Tombs at Mawangdui as the core, which was recognized as one of China's ten best exhibits for the 2004/2005 year. Since we adopted the policy of free entrance, our museum has planned and held over 80 history and art temporary exhibitions, among which Classicism and Aestheticism and The Special Exhibition of Chu Cultural Relics became great local cultural events. Our museum has carried out extensive cooperative activities with different media to sponsor thematic museum education programs. Such hot TV programs as Museum Treasures and Day Day Up have spread the social influence of our museum to the whole country and even to other countries. We have also actively enlisted the whole society to support and participate in the construction of our museum. Up to now, we have had 2,208 volunteers participating in museum service and the number of our members has reached 9082. Through such diversity and the participation of the public, our museum has begun to establish a public cultural service mechanism that looks to the future and formed a new type of museum cultural ecology that coincides with the development trend of our time.

Optimizing the operational mechanism so as to ensure the continuous stability and improvement of our service level

Social progress and development always rely on reform and innovation. As institution for the benefits of the public, museums should even more self-conscientiously follow the guidance of museological theories, design and implement reforms and innovations according to the nature and norms of museums, and make efforts to upgrade the level of public service. In 2009, in order to further deepen the internal organizational reform and management innovation, we consulted the successful experiences of Chinese and foreign museums, took into consideration the first two rounds of reform of our museum and the new situation of free entrance, and implemented the third round of personnel and compensation system reform. This reform is a further scientific and reasonable restructuring and improvement of the internal organization. It has deepened the management reform of the employment system, job responsibilities and task object, promoted the reform of the income distribution, evaluation and motivation mechanism, and pushed forward the transition of the culture industry from departmental management by objectives to entity operation and self-directed development. This reform has fully aroused the initiative and enthusiasm of the staff, and guaranteed the continuous stability and improvement of service quality with an established system. The contents of our museum's service to the society and its outreach have constantly been extended.

Doing better than before in service quality, the effect of the visitors' experience and social benefit

Since we adopted the policy of free entrance, our museum has adhered to the concept of quality service, cared for and attended to our visitors as much as we can, and studied and solved the existing problems in our management mechanism so as to ensure the steady improvement of our service quality. We have truly realized our promise of "doing better than before" to the society and achieved obvious results. Since 2008, the annual attendance of our museum has remained at about 1.4 million, with annual visitor satisfaction rate at around 95%. Various media of the central government have given a full report of our museum and set it as a fine example of museums in China adopting the policy of free entrance. Due to the fact that we actively explore an innovative system and mechanism and make great efforts to improve our management and service under the new circumstances, Hunan Provincial Museum was granted the award of "The Best Achievement in Management Innovation" to commend our effective exploration and practice of free admission to the public in the campaign initiated by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage to appraise the best practices of free admission among all the museums throughout the nation in the year of 2011.

While we exult at the prosperous development of our cause, we cannot neglect the issues that people within the museum circle have to think about reasonably, namely what are museums, how museums should be run and how people in the museum circle should act. We believe that as long as we firmly follow the direction of running the museum professionally and constantly renovate the management mode, the development of museums will definitely usher in a completely new spring.


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