Did you know the “breadfruit tree” in Taiwan is not a real breadfruit tree? And what are the astronomical journeys of Fast Radio Bursts? This is the fourth time the Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures (ASCDC) celebrates the International Museum Day (May 18). This year, the ASCDC has collaborated with the research institutes at Academia Sinica and the Chinese Association of Museums and decided to take “blossoming knowledge” as the theme. Under this theme, 30 domestic research institutions, museums, art galleries present 35 online exhibitions.

James C. Liao, President of Academia Sinica, said that the physical world has gradually returned to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is still important to continue strengthening the digital transformation of museums. “The online exhibition of popular science organized by different research divisions at Academia Sinica shows the blossoming of knowledge in various academic fields, and aims to narrow the distance between academics and the general public.” What’s more, this is the first time the ASCDC has used OpenStreetMap, Wikipedia and Wikidata to create a map service named “ALL at Once” to visually present content from more than 300 institutions globally.

Let’s make Profound Research Popular! Knowledge Blooms after the Pandemic with the Open Museum’s Online Exhibitions

Unveiling Cutting-Edge Research Discoveries from Academia Sinica

Kuo-fang Chung, Associate Research Fellow at the Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica, has been tracing the migration history of the Austronesian language family through plant phylogeography, providing strong evidence to solve the migration route of the Austronesian-speaking people. “The Long-Misunderstood Breadfruit Tree” is an exhibition introducing Dr. Chung’s study about the taxonomic change of the “Breadfruits” in Taiwan and the trees’ evolutionary histories. The scientific name of the breadfruit trees in Taiwan should be updated as Artocarpus treculianus, which is a different species from the breadfruit trees (Artocarpus altilis) that are widely cultivated in other parts of the world. Through studying the phylogeography of the breadfruit tree, the researchers tries to answer questions about the origin of the “breadfruit tree” and the Yami people in Taiwan, and provides evidence different from historical linguistics and archaeology to explore the ancestry of the Yami people in Lanyu and the expansion of the Austronesian-speaking people.

The exhibition of the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics focuses on the “Bustling Universe Radio Survey Telescope in Taiwan” (BURSTT) project led by Distinguished Research Fellow and Director Ue-li Pen, which is a new type of telescope with baseline positioning capabilities, that can identify Fast Radio Bursts and their hosts (galaxies) in the vicinity of the Milky Way. It is expected to answer the scientific riddle of “do all Fast Radio Bursts repeat?”

The Institute of History and Philology (IHP), Academia Sinica, presents 2 online exhibitions regarding archeological excavations of the Ruins of Yin (Yinxu). By using image comparison module, the “Oracle Bones and their Coloring” exhibition allows readers to easily grasp the newly confirmed types of tints and their materials on oracle bone inscriptions from Yinxu. The team led by Dr. Ming-chorng Hwang, Research Fellow at the IHP, using the non-invasive Raman Spectre has for the first time made breakthroughs on coloring analysis. There is also another exhibition called “Exploring the Stories of the Ruins of Yin Excavation Together with the Archaeologists,” that uses biographies, timelines, and image annotation to show the important people who participated in the Anyang Ruins of Yin excavation team, with interesting stories from the fieldwork during 1928-1937. Furthermore, the exhibition will guide the viewers to walk through the Ruins of Yin with visual images and videos.

In addition, Chien-hsiang Lin, Assistant Research Fellow at the Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica, uses fossils of the commonly eaten “red sea bream” as a case study to explore the temporal and spatial changes of fish diversity in the Western Pacific Ocean region. The Life Science Library, Academia Sinica has cooperated with the Taiwan Environmental Information Association to display the survey results and video records of Taiwan’s coral reefs over the past 12 years. The “Fantastical Ocean” exhibition collects the atlases of ancient books about fish from online collections, presenting how people in ancient times used to imagine the underwater world.

The Digital Museum of the Institute of Ethnology Goes Online

Hsi-yuan Chen, Director of the Center for Digital Cultures, revealed that, as a composite platform that combines collection management and research presentation, the Open Museum not only actively promotes multi-dimensional digital curation, but also cooperates with domestic institutions to establish “digital repository.” With the advantages of functional modularity, the platform can be customized according to the needs of each institution, so that it can have multiple functions such as collecting, displaying, managing, educating, and researching, and become the institution’s “digital repository.” “As such, the ‘preservation’ of collections and research materials can advance with the times.”

The eagerly anticipated launch of the “Digital Museum of the Institute of Ethnology Academia Sinica” happened on May 17. The Museum aims to integrate the Institute’s digital resources, featuring “Digital Exhibitions”, “Digital Collections”, “Digital Reading”, and “Digital Learning”, to explore the potential of using the digital world to convey anthropological knowledge. The online exhibitions, which have evolved from physical and co-operative exhibitions over the years, promote the reconnection of cultural relics in the collection with people from all walks of life. Additionally, the digitization of classic ethnographies not only provides digital texts, but also aims to encourage open reading and collaborative reading, allowing the researched (indigenous people) to present their own perspectives. Furthermore, the first batch of cultural artifacts and field images in the collection (comprising more than 12,000 pieces) has been released under the Creative Commons license.

A Map Showing the Open Museum’s Content from 300 Global Institutions

In addition to displaying the collections of our partners, the Open Museum also continues to collect open data from domestic and international institutions, and currently has content from over 300 different organizations globally, including East Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Oceania. The platform has over 240,000 globally-curated digital items available to be used.

Following last year’s launch of the collection digital roaming demonstration experience, which allows the public to explore the selected collections of 73 institutions and individuals from around the world with easy access, this year for the first time the ASCDC has also developed the “ALL at Once” exploration map that uses OpenStreetMap, Wikipedia, and Wikidata to visualize the more than 300 different institutions where content is from. The map also provides a glimpse at all the digital content available through the Open Museum. At the same time, the public can also use this map to get an overview of the museums in Taiwan.

Using Exhibitions to Digitally Transform Taiwan’s Museums

In addition to the popular science exhibition, the variety of special exhibitions is a highlight of this event. The ASCDC and the Chinese Association of Museums have jointly invited 23 museums and art galleries to join in this year’s event, which presents 27 online exhibitions.This collection of exhibitions has a wide array of themes, with topics about tangible and intangible subjects: from subjects in the natural world such as prehistoric monsters, the underwater world, plants depicted in traditional art, to the traditional arts and crafts like kiln-fired pottery, which was once popular but no longer available, paper-cutting art, and contemporary ink painter Ken-shen Hung’s humanistic style paintings of Penghu, and then to the socio-historical exploration of local history through Neiwei, Kaohsiung and to deep philosophical thinking and debates on the existence of human beings in the world. The exhibition also provides a review of and further thinking about the pandemic era, including a mini “pandemic” gallery which takes the vaccine as its main point of exploration, and there is an exhibition that shows the at-home art guides used by our early ancestors.

Shih-yu Hung, President of the Chinese Association of Museums, stated that the Open Museum has long played a role in gathering resources from museums, private collections and cultural institutions to allow people to connect with culture, history and art at anytime and anywhere. The theme of this year’s International Museum Day is “Museums, Sustainability and Wellbeing,” so our exhibitions aim to position museums closer to people and their lives. He said that the Chinese Association of Museums will continue to support and deepen the Open Museum’s impact on the public.

The International Museum Day held every 18 May has become a veritable feast for museum circles in Taiwan. Hsi-yuan Chen is deeply grateful for the enthusiastic response of major institutions. In the future, the ASCDC will continue to increase the Open Museum’s capacity and expand the possibilities of having a borderless digital museum, and use it to stimulate the generation and circulation of new knowledge.

“Blossoming Knowledge” Event Homepage: https://openmuseum.tw/museumday2023
Open Museum Website: https://openmuseum.tw
Open Museum Plaza: https://plaza.openmuseum.tw
ASCDC Homepage: https://ascdc.sinica.edu.tw/en
Digital Museum of the Institute of Ethnology Academia Sinica: https://mioe.openmuseum.tw