Mall as museum: Art comes to the masses

Wang Jie
Today malls chose "art" to "light up" the artistic atmosphere inside or "level up" the aesthetic taste of their visual image to the public.
Wang Jie

Last week, two integrated commercial complexes celebrated their opening in Shanghai — LCM in the Pudong New Area and LuOne downtown Huangpu District.

As if by coincidence, both malls chose “art” to “light up” the artistic atmosphere inside or “level up” the aesthetic taste of their visual image to the public.

Today, art already seems an indispensable part for most malls in town, a successful example is the K11 on Huaihai Road that saves its underground space for a series of popular contemporary art exhibitions to attract the art lovers.

However, it is not easy for a commercial complex to fuse art with a mall, especially considering the budget, the space and a strong interest from the public.

For example, LuOne tries to attract customers on the back of the fame of Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami, two world renowned Japanese artists and also household names among youngsters. The exhibition features a group of their prints and a purpose-made installation.

However, LCM tries to combine the traditional museum experience with commercial retail in an innovative way.

“A Journey Through Time,” through October 28, is an “edutainment”-themed pop-up store organized in collaboration with the British Museum.

Combining education and entertainment, it offers a cultural experience for visitors by showcasing 40 official replicas of historically significant artworks.

“This pop-up store’s unique combination of art appreciation, shopping and education is designed to encourage visitors and the general public to enjoy art and culture as part of their everyday lives,” says Roderick Buchanan, commercial director of the British Museum who attended the opening ceremony of the pop-up store last Saturday.

Buchanan joined the British Museum in 2008 and has been in charge of all the museum’s commercial activities, including retail, licensing, corporate sponsorship and publishing.

Q: Is this the British Museum’s first pop-up store in China? What motivated you to choose LCM to be your Chinese partner ?

A: Yes, this is our first pop-up store in China, as well as our first-ever collaboration with a shopping mall.

We have been thoroughly impressed by LCM’s commitment to promote culture and education through the creative use of its prime location and unique resources.

LCM’s commitment is very much in line with the British Museum’s mission to promote public appreciation of history and culture via the use of modern approaches such as taking advantage of cutting-edge technologies and unconventional venues.

Mall as museum: Art comes to the masses

The British Museum has recently opened its first pop-up store “A Journey Through Time” at the LCM mall in the Pudong New Area. The store is designed to educate through entertainment.

Q: What is the main goal of “A Journey Through Time”?

A: The main goal of the “A Journey Through Time” pop-up store is to showcase the diversity and values of ancient cultures so that people can better understand their influence throughout history and how they relate to our modern era. This objective is exemplified by LCM’s brand essence of “Let’s Create More,” which aims to encourage consumers to contemplate the values of both individuals and society, as well as motivate them to explore and experience an inspiring new urban lifestyle.

Q: For those who are unable to fly thousands of miles to the UK to visit the British Museum, what are the main attractions at this pop-up store?

A: Altogether we have selected 40 official replicas of historically significant artworks for presentation at the pop-up store. These include the Rosetta Stone, which played a crucial role in shedding light on the mysteries of ancient Egypt, the Flood Tablet, one of the world’s oldest pieces of literature, and the Gayer-Anderson Cat, a widely recognized symbol of ancient Egyptian culture. The vast majority of these showpieces, 85 percent to be precise, have never before been shown in China in any form whatsoever.

The official replicas presented at the pop-up store, which have been faithfully reproduced, will allow visitors to imagine what it would be like to view and appreciate the actual objects in person. Visitors will also be able to enjoy fully interactive experiences utilizing VR and other advanced technologies.

Through the integration of a variety of multimedia formats, we can more vividly illustrate the stories behind each of the pieces in the collection.

Q: What are the criteria in selecting original artworks from the British Museum’s collection to be replicated?

A: As mentioned before, the 40 selected official replicas are all faithful copies of historically significant works of art.

They are some of the most popular pieces among visitors to the British Museum.

Q: In addition to the replicas, what other interactive activities are being offered?

A: There will be a unique QR code alongside each replica. Visitors can scan these codes to view detailed descriptions and images on their mobile phones so they can learn more about the history behind each of the artworks.

VR technologies have also been integrated into the exhibition so that visitors can enjoy a more immersive experience.

We have set up a special DIY Zone where visitors can choose the images they like the most to be silkscreen-printed on custom-made T-shirts and bags. There will also be some interactive workshops and courses for children to help them learn more about ancient cultures.

Mall as museum: Art comes to the masses

A girl is entranced by a statue of Pharoah Ptolemy I. Nearly 40 replicas of significant artworks from the British Museum are on display.

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