From Tang Dynasty ladies to princess hairpins, Google wants you to see cultural relics without leaving home

People are creatures who ask themselves where they came from. Museums carry the endless historical and cultural context, telling the moving years that existed in the long past.

This past May 18th was International Museum Day.

This festival, founded by the International Council of Museums in 1977, explores thought-provoking themes each year.

The theme of International Museum Day 2022 is "The Power of Museums" – Museums have the power to change the world around us, they teach us about our past and open us to new ideas that help us build a better future.

We might as well make the question more specific. At the beginning of everything, how can museums let more people meet cultural relics first?

Relics are tangible and immersive

This year, ICOM hopes to explore the power of museums through three lenses:

Realize the power of sustainability, the power of digital and accessibility innovation, the power of building communities through education.

Among them, the power of digitization makes museums more accessible and engaging, helping audiences understand complex and nuanced concepts.

This May 18th also happens to be the third season of Google's "Immersive Museums" series of online events for Arts & Culture.

As the name suggests, "Immersive Museum" brings the experience of "going to the museum" online, digitizes cultural relics through technological means, and uses a variety of technologies to reveal the extraordinary details and back stories of the collections.

In the "immersive museum", the dissemination of culture and art is no longer limited by geographical areas, and the precious historical heritage becomes within easy reach.

This time, Google Arts and Culture invited Liaoning Provincial Museum, Hubei Provincial Museum, and Hunan Provincial Museum to select treasures from the collection and extract unique shape elements to explore how artworks interpret shapes with different techniques and aesthetic concepts.

"As for the end of Zhenyuan and Yuan Dynasty, it was romantic and splendid." The Liaoning Provincial Museum's "Ladies with Hairpins" presents "beautiful shapes", depicting the scene of six noble women and their maids enjoying flowers in the garden at the turn of spring and summer. Chinese and American people wear lead powder on their faces, eyebrows like laurel leaves, buns and hairpins.

The golden flower hairpin in the Hubei Provincial Museum is the one that bloomed on Princess Liangzhuang's head 600 years ago. The pattern of the petals emerged from the thousands of taps, depicting the "shape of flowers".

The "Coloring Peony, Grass and Insect Scroll" of Hunan Provincial Museum is another appearance of "Flower Shape". First, the "boneless method" is used to outline the multiple layers of the petals, and then the "powdering method" is used to express the color. Moisturizing feeling, peony flowers are rich and elegant.

The dynamic images are equipped with poetic narration and simulated sound effects, telling the stories and details of the cultural relics, bringing an immersive and innovative online art appreciation experience.

Culture changes, times change, and what is eternal is people's endless pursuit of beauty.

Museum day, more than one day

The original intention of establishing Museum Day is to call on all countries in the world to pay attention to museums and cultural undertakings, and to promote the healthy development of the world's museum undertakings.

Digitization is a very important joint in it.

There are more than 1.8 million cultural relics in the Forbidden City, and the exhibition space is limited compared to the number of cultural relics. There are 735 caves in the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, which cannot be completely measured by the energy of tourists.

Force majeure factors such as the epidemic, and unpredictable disasters such as the Notre Dame de Paris fire make the digitization of museums even more urgent and necessary.

At present, Google Arts and Culture has covered more than 2,000 cultural institutions from more than 80 countries and regions. Through ultra-high-resolution images, 3D scanning, virtual reality, 360-degree panoramas and other technologies, more cultural relics can be seen and known to us .

The Hunan Provincial Museum and the Hubei Provincial Museum, which appeared on Museum Day this time, are also partners of Google Arts and Culture.

In 2014, Hunan Provincial Museum, as the first public museum in mainland China, cooperated with Google Arts and Culture to launch a total of 59 high-definition pictures of cultural relics and an online exhibition "The History of the Bottle" .

Since 2015, Hubei Provincial Museum has launched a total of 214 high-definition pictures of cultural relics, 9 online exhibitions and 2 360-degree panoramic images on the Google Arts and Culture platform.

The digitalization of museums not only opens cultural relics to everyone across time and region, but also connects us with the historical context behind the cultural relics, conveying the meaning of the museum's title – natural knowledge.

One of the online exhibitions at the Hubei Provincial Museum is a lacquer inner coffin with dragon and phoenix patterns captured by the "One Billion Pixels" ultra-high-definition technology . From the pavement and the ring to the dragon and phoenix patterns, the details of the lacquer coffin are clearly visible when enlarged.

In addition to the visual shock, we can also understand that painted lacquerware is a major artistic achievement of the Chu people. The warm and humid environment in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River is suitable for the growth of lacquer trees. Many phoenix ornaments.

Another online exhibition "Zenghouyi Bronze" in Hubei Provincial Museum not only introduces the excavation process of Zenghouyi's tomb, but also systematically introduces the musical instruments, wine, etc. utensils, food utensils, weapons, household utensils.

Wang Xianfu, deputy director of Hubei Provincial Museum, told Ai Faner:

In the past, people only stayed in museums to watch exhibitions or cultural relics, or to participate in activities, and the depth and breadth were much weaker. Because the number of cultural relics that can enter the museum is limited, a large number of cultural relics have not entered the exhibition hall of the museum. The digital application of cultural relics has a wider field and scope. We can directly contact more exhibits through the Internet, feel the charm of the collection more, and carry out more corresponding educational activities.

There are other ways to display Google Arts and Culture, and curatorial ideas are not limited by a single museum collection, which is one of the benefits of digital museums.

For example, the topic "We Wear Culture" discusses the story behind "What We Wear", bringing together museum resources and curatorial creativity, popularizing the origins of various crafts such as Indian saris and St. Gallen embroidery. Explore the long-term relationship between fashion and art, and also extend the analysis of the impact of fashion in the present.

Online and offline, complement each other

Jiang Song, a cultural and blog enthusiast, believes that real objects have an "aura" and historical information in them.

It is good to have digital, but we will always need physical museums to feel the pulse of history.

Known as "the first sword in the world", the Yue King Goujian Sword is one of the treasures of the Hubei Provincial Museum. This bronze sword was buried underground for more than 2,500 years. When it was unearthed, it was inserted into a lacquered wooden scabbard. The decoration was clear and free of rust.

On December 20, 2021, the new Hubei Provincial Museum, which started construction in 2016, opened , and 6 new exhibitions were held, one of which was the "Special Exhibition of Yue King Goujian Sword". For the first time, only one piece was displayed in one exhibition hall. cultural relics.

▲ King of Yue Goujian Sword. Image from: wiki/Siyuwj

Wang Xianfu, deputy director of the Hubei Provincial Museum, told Ai Faner how to display this cultural relic and the story behind it together, bringing new challenges to the Hubei Provincial Museum:

How it was excavated, how it came, and the analysis of its technological means, we will put it in this exhibition, especially the highly developed casting technology and decoration technology related to it.

In addition, Hubei Provincial Museum has added more multimedia and interactive experiences to the museum.

The exhibition "Tian Lai – Early Musical Instruments Unearthed in Hubei" sorts out the early musical instruments unearthed in Hubei and their evolution, and witnesses the origin, development and prosperity of ritual music culture. There is also a blind road and an interactive area for the blind to experience the blind audience. The blind audience can personally hit the chimes and experience the technology of musical instrument casting.

▲ The bell of Zeng Houyi.

This heavy sense of history and the humanistic atmosphere of advancing with the times, it is difficult to feel it without the scene.

Wang Xianfu believes that in the future, digital museums and physical museums should complement each other in terms of displaying cultural relics and conducting education for the public:

The display method and physical cultural relics of the physical museum are more intuitive and can shorten the distance between the audience and the audience. However, due to the impact of appointments, epidemics, distance, etc., the number of people who actually enter the museum will decrease, and we can make up for it through digital museums. Especially in recent years, digital museums are more popular with audiences, which further expands the spread and makes young people like museums and love our traditional culture.

The museum is no longer an exhibition through glass, nor is it a cultural interest that is high above. What it brings us is the opportunity and freedom to learn about various artifacts in various forms.

Li Ruoqiuhuang, to exorcise evil. Working email: [email protected]

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