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|T-shirts featuring an antique chair hang in the souvenir shop at Beijing's Guanfu Museum. Photo: Cui MengGT Guanfu Museum's limited edition tea set Photo: Cui MengGT Many Chinese people born in the 1950s-70s may still remember the enamel washbasins they used during childhood and how the shrimps Scarpe Nike Air Force 1 Low 07 LV8 Grigie Saldi , copied from the works of famous painter Qi Baishi (1864-1957), looked as if they were living under the water as you were washing your face. From flowers and fruits to birds, many of Qi's works can still be found printed on everyday use items such as thermos bottles and even lamp shades.
Almost half a century later, modern items derived from cultural and historical relics are once again gaining attention, such as the rolls of packing tape printed with the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) Emperor Kang Xi's handwritten sentence "zhen zhidaole" (I know) being sold by Taipei's Palace Museum.
While most of these culturally derived products are just small practical items that require little creativity to make, such as key chains and book marks Scarpe Uomo Nike Air Force 1 07 Low Oro Bianche Saldi , figuring out how to turn traditional culture into creative souvenirs has become an important task for many museums in China.
Products in demand
A local resident of Shanghai, Wang Jia likes to visit the Shanghai Museum's souvenir shop where he can find one of his favorite items; red envelopes with one of famed painter Cheng Zhang's (1869-1938) artworks printed on it. "You can't get something so elegant anywhere else. Though a bit pricey, it impresses people when you use them," Wang said.
Wang is not alone in his preference for unique cultural items. Things such as kaleidoscopes, puzzles, poker cards Scarpe Uomo Nike Air Force 1 Low Nere Saldi , umbrellas and wallets are all popular souvenirs sold by the Shanghai Museum of Glass. According to Fang Jing, the museum's market and PR director, animal shaped glass pendants are a favorite among children.
The PR director explained that in 2013 the museum earned 2.19 million yuan ($350,000) from ticket sales and visiting guides and 2.9 million yuan from supporting facilities, 1 million yuan of this latter amount was earned from souvenir sales.
"When people talk about museums, they often think of them as non-profit organizations and therefore think they don't require the support of commercial industry Scarpe Uomo Nike Air Force 1 Flyknit Low Nere Saldi ," said Shi Tong, deputy director of the museum management division of the Shanghai Municipal Cultural Heritage Bureau. "But actually, these cultural creations can be a very important part of museums."
"Developing innovative ideas from our cultural and historical heritage doesn't harm these heritages, on the contrary, it actually helps promote them," He Yun'ao Scarpe Nike Air Force 1 Mid 07 Bianche Saldi , director of the Cultural and Natural Heritage Research Center of Nanjing University, told the People's Daily.
As He's opinion continues to receive wider recognition, many insiders point out there are currently numerous constraints on public museums when it comes to profiting off of culturally derived products such as souvenirs.
"Institutional constraints prevent [public] museums from directly engaging in for-profit activities," Mao Yan, deputy curator of the Suzhou Museum in Jiangsu Province, told the People's Daily.
Since public museums are wholly funded by the government Scarpe Uomo Nike Air Force 1 Low Bianche Saldi , they are not allowed to invest funds into commercial businesses and all income must be turned back over to the government.
An official with the Jiangsu Province Bureau of Cultural Relics who wishes to remain anonymous gave his opinion on the situation, "The major functions of a museum are to hold exhibitions, keep collections, conduct research and provide public services. As such they cannot be allowed to become too commercialized." Yet he also pointed out that seeing as how commercializing museum resources is a well used international practice, how to manage the business of culturally derived products is certainly something worth discussing.
Private museum model
Compared to public museums, private museums have much more freedom when it comes to making money off of culturally derived items.
Established in 1996 Saldi Scarpe Donna Nike Cortez Classic Nylon Blu Grigie , Beijing's Guanfu Museum, the first private history museum in China, began to establish a specialized team to oversee the production of souvenirs in 2008.
"It is the hope of Mr Ma (Ma Weidu, head curator of Guanfu) that culture be close to people's lives. As such we hope to use the commercial commodities that we've developed to promote traditional Chinese culture," Jin Ke, vice chief director and commodity development manager for the Guanfu Museum Saldi Scarpe Donna Nike Cortez Classic Nylon Rosa , told the Global Times, adding that they are trying to learn from the experiences of mature foreign museums like The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
According to Jin, having developed over 400 products from T-shirts, mouse pads, silk scarves to tea sets, almost every item sold at the museum carries a brief explanation of the cultural or historical relic it is connected to in order to help customers getting a better understanding of Chinese culture.
Although there are affordable commodities for common customers Saldi Scarpe Uomo Nike Cortez Classic Nylon Verdi Grigie , Guanfu has also developed a large number of high-end products, the prices of which range from several thousand yuan to tens of thousands of yuan.
Jin explained that visitors to the Guanfu Museum tend to be a bit different than the tourists that visit Beijing's Palace Museum when it comes spending power and aesthetic tastes and as such have a higher demand for high-end products instead of ordinary souvenirs.
One thing that Guanfu has been doing is cooperating with well-known artists to develop some of these high-end products, such as a limited edition tea set.
However, Jin admits that creating items that are creative has become serious bottleneck. A point echoed by Zhang Peng, vice secretary general of the Chinese Museums Association's special committee for cultural products.
"Almost all the museums out t
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