There have been several recent incidences of tourists damaging or disrespecting museum property in odd ways in an attempt to offer donations or to make wishes.
At the Wushan Museum in Chongqing, an ancient burial coffin was being used to collect donations from museum visitors. It’s unclear whether or not the museum staff was encouraging this practice, but the coffin has been filled with cash and coins over the time it was being used by museum-goers to collect donations for the museum.
The coffin had been discovered in the mid reaches of the Yangtze River. It had once belonged to the Ba people, who were part of a Chinese civilization that dates back to about 2,000 years ago.
Local reports haven’t confirmed whether or not the practice of leaving monetary gifts in the ancient coffin will stop after it gained international attention. Many were outraged at the implication of a slight towards the dead, the coffin’s original owners, and the ancient people the artifact was associated with.
Display Case Containing Fossilized Skeleton of Dinosaur Used to Collect Cash Donations
In a practice similar to the use of the coffin as a donations collection box, the Beijing Museum of Natural History has been using the display case of a dinosaur’s remains to collect donations from museum visitors. According to the museum’s staff members, visitors have been pushing money through the edges of the display case for fun or to make a wish.
The Beijing News reported that most of the cash notes left in the display case range up to as much as 10 yuan (HK$12.50) apiece, and hundreds of yuan notes have been left by the visiting public. While the practice has earned plenty of money for the Museum of Natural History, there are concerns that the donations could damage the specimen of the dinosaur’s remains.
Visitors Throw Coins at Ancient Qing Dynasty Tablet for Good Luck, Damaging Artifact
The Beijing Art Museum reported that visitors have been tossing coins at an ancient stone tablet dating back to the Qing dynasty, which lasted from 1644 to 1911. The thrown coins have been damaging the tablet, leaving the engraved surface pitted and scarred.
A volunteer at the museum said, “We have security guards here, but we cannot make sure every piece is under watch all the time.”
Chinese Officials Confirm the Need for Increased Security for the Nation’s Museums and Historical Institutions
The Chinese state media say that these incidents reflect a greater need for increased security in and around the nation’s museums. As of last March, there have been new regulations set forth to tighten the operations and control of museums, including the safety of displayed artifacts.
The Chinese media often reports on the “uncivilized” actions of tourists visiting these museums, and that their behavior has been damaging priceless pieces of art, history, and culture. They ask for visitors to show more courtesy in their visits, and to think before engaging in seemingly-harmless acts made in fun or for good luck.