Ancient artifacts come alive with technology

Xinhua
Technology is making its way to more Chinese museums.
Xinhua

Xu Shaoqing stood in front of a large screen, and a picture of a golden earring the size of a basketball appeared.

"The jewelry dates back to the Warring States Period (5 BC- 221 BC)," read a caption.

Xu took out his phone, scanned a QR code beside the illustration, and a link with all the information on the earring opened on his phone.

The presentation is part of a new experience offered by the provincial museum in east China's Fujian Province for its latest exhibition.

A four-by-two-meter HD touch screen displays facts about more than 300 artifacts from an exhibition on the maritime silk road.

"If visitors miss the real exhibition, they can still enjoy it on the screen," said Gong Zhangnian, deputy director of the museum. "You can even browse the exhibition at home on your phone."

Technology is making its way to more Chinese museums. Last week, China's cultural protection agency issued guidelines for local branches, pledging to invest more in the digitization of artifacts.

China had 4,872 museums as of late 2016, receiving around 900 million visitors annually.

Shaanxi, a northwestern province with China's second-largest cultural collections, announced earlier this month that it has built digital archives for more than half of its 282 public museums.

"We are planning to use 1,100 square meters of space for a smart exhibition," said Gong, explaining that augmented reality and virtual reality equipment will be used to provide a better interactive experience for viewing art.

Cultural institutions like the Fujian museum are teaming up with tech companies to promote cultural protection.

The China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation announced last week its cooperation with Intel in protecting the Great Wall of China.

Intel will use its AI technology and drones to create HD images and 3D models of the cultural site, as well as gather necessary information for its renovation, according to the foundation.

Chinese search engine Baidu has been digitally archiving China's museums since 2012, enlisting more than 200 museums in the ongoing project.

The institutions are also working with tech companies to create content in modern ways that can appeal to a younger generation of digital natives.

The Palace Museum, or Forbidden City, and Dunhuang Academy, famous for its UNESCO-listed grottoes, both teamed up with Chinese tech giant Tencent to create culture-themed content.

Products in the pipeline include memes and GIF images featuring historical Chinese figures and anime about the history and culture of Dunhuang's grottoes.

"The stories behind the cultural collections are rich, but often left untold," said Gong. "Tech helps these stories come alive."


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