China Focus: Supported by new tech, diverse museums come closer to public
NANJING, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Three-dimensional (3D) holographic images are seen by many as belonging solely to the realm of science fiction, but for Wei Xuyao, the same effect can be achieved in museum exhibitions without the use of 3D glasses.
Wei started his business in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province, in 2013. His company focuses on developing holographic projection technology for exhibition services.
"Integrating technologies with traditional culture can create a huge market," he said.
Last year, the company completed a project which brought alive a collection of images of Confucius at one of the most famous scenic spots in Nanjing.
"We used holographic projectors to project 3D images of Confucius into the air, and the ancient scholar can even 'flutter'," Wei said with excitement.
Innovations like this are transforming traditional exhibitions and making Chinese museums more diverse, he added, noting that the trend particularly caters to the expectations of today's young people.
"Chinese cities boast a large number of museums which exude the charm of traditional culture, but they need to rely more on trendy technologies to stand out and attract the public, especially the younger generation," said Gao Ge, deputy secretary-general of the National Culture and Technology Innovation Service Alliance.
Themed "Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion," this year's campaign for International Museum Day, which fell on Monday, included various special activities held across China. Featuring advanced technology, the events further built platforms of communication between museums and the public.
CLOSER TO AUDIENCES
In collaboration with Xinhua News Agency, the National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA) Monday launched a platform to show the best of the online exhibitions of China's museums at the opening ceremony of the International Museum Day celebrations in Nanjing, the main venue for the celebrations.
Museums in Beijing are also driving audiences to the online collections with more than 90 themed events rolled out in concert with International Museum Day, including 50 cloud exhibitions and 15 livestreaming shows.
A Beijing-based memorial hall of Xu Beihong, a renowned Chinese painter, launched an online exhibition last Friday. To the surprise of Zhang Yuqing, docent of the memorial hall, her livestreaming was viewed by nearly 2.9 million people online within 1.5 hours.
"Livestreaming has given us a new way to provide cultural services for the public and it has expanded the role of museums in social education," said Li Qing, deputy curator of the memorial hall.
Statistics show that more than 2,000 online exhibitions were launched by museums across China during the COVID-19 outbreak and the total number of viewers during the Spring Festival holiday exceeded 5 billion.
In order to popularize Nanjing brocade, an intangible cultural heritage, Jiangnan Silk Culture Museum in Jiangsu carried out an exhibition project adopting virtual reality (VR) technologies.
Audiences can put over 1,000 parts of the brocade loom together like doing a jigsaw puzzle when they wear VR glasses, said Geng Qi, curator of the museum, adding that people can thus learn the names and roles of each part in an entertaining fashion.
For Chinese museums, which are now striving to get closer to visitors, being more interactive also matters.
The Imperial Examination Museum in Nanjing initiated interactive games including repairing cracked porcelain and experiencing Peking Opera makeup on International Museum Day, as a way of satisfying the diverse needs of visitors.
"My kids love these interactions, and it can help cultivate their interest in museums," said Liu Lin, a Nanjing resident who often takes her children to local museums.
CITY OF MUSEUMS
In China, more than 20 cities have put forward the concept of building a "city of museums," including Shanghai, which took the lead in proposing the construction of 100 museums in 2001, and Beijing, which now boasts 187 registered museums.
To build a city of museums is an important task to develop Beijing into a national cultural center, said Chen Mingjie, director of the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage, when talking about Beijing's efforts to echo the theme of this year's International Museum Day.
In the eyes of An Laishun, vice president of the International Council of Museums, the capital city needs to further upgrade a number of museums that can represent its history, culture and science and technology, thus building a more diverse, balanced and inclusive museum system.
The development of cultural and creative products has also contributed to the boom of museums in cities across China. More and more Chinese choose to purchase museum-developed products after their visits, just like "bringing the museum back home."
In 2019, the Suzhou Museum launched nearly 300 cultural and creative products including lotus-shaped cups and vase fridge magnets, with the sales volume reaching over 32 million yuan (about 4.5 million U.S. dollars), up 50 percent year on year.
By the end of 2019, there were 5,535 registered museums nationwide and the number of visitors to museums across China increased to 1.23 billion last year, according to Liu Yuzhu, head of the NCHA.
"Equality has become a distinctive characteristic of the development of Chinese museums, while innovation has accelerated their modernization and intellectualization," Liu said.