With no appointments and no jet lag, unfold the featured archives around the world by mouse clicking!
With the resurgence of COVID-19, Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures (ASCDC) has responded to the International Museum Day (May 18) for three consecutive years. Using the “Open Museum” as a platform, calling on domestic archival institutes to join in as a group to demonstrate multiple roles that “digital” museums can play in the pandemic.
This year, the event is held with the main theme “Linking ∞ Connecting the World”. More than 500 collections from various countries are displayed. By breaking boundaries of regions and museums, it allows the public to conduct digital explorations through seeking relationships among collections. It is considered the nation’s first of its kind. At the same time, ASCDC has joined hands with the Chinese Association of Museums for the third time, together, to promote 59 online exhibitions with 43 museums, cultural and research institutions, including several from Academia Sinica. People can enjoy all featured collections without going out or congregating.
According to James C. Liao, President of Academia Sinica, the challenges brought by COVID-19 to the world are coming in like waves. Aside from fighting the virus with scientific research, Academia Sinica is actively responding the needs of digital trends as well as global art and literature industry. Developing and applying the emerging media would expand people’s knowledge and understanding of the world. In recent years, the “Open Museum” has been promoting digital transformation with collecting institutions across Taiwan. Today, it is building a mechanism to connect collections from all over the world; to promote Taiwan with international standards, and to pave the way for future development. “This is a solution of museum transformation in pandemic time, which is also known as the pre-construction of a new post-pandemic model,” said President Liao.
Seamlessly explore the collections of 73 institutions without boundaries
The British Museum collected Gu Kaizhi’s “Admonitions Scroll” in the Eastern Jin Dynasty, behind the scenes photo of the movie “Xi-shi”, Pu Tiansheng’s sculpture “After the Bath” and Ishikawa Kinichiro’s painting “The Countryside (Early Summer on the Post Road)”. These seemly-unrelated works are somehow intimately connected. “Open Museum” is a digital museum service system that combines collection, display, and application. It has connected more than 230,000 collections of domestic and foreign archival and research institutions. In order to enhance the visibility and reusability of collections, ASCDC continues developing and improving the recommendation system on the platform. In this year’s event, “Linking ∞ Connecting the World”, more than 500 collections are selected to provide online experiences for visitors. Click on any of the collections, the “relationships” with others appear. It provides a way for users to explore collected art with no limitation in an endless cycle.
The online experience of “Linking ∞ Connecting the World” binds 73 precious collections of individuals, local and overseas institutions together. In this activity, 42 domestic institutions include Academia Sinica’s Institute of History and Philology, the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, the “Taiwan Encyclopedia of Life (TaiEOL)” platform have participated. Other institutions such as the National Museum of History, Li Mei-shu Memorial Gallery, the National Palace Museum, etc. are included; When 13 artists, photographers, and private collectors such as Zhixin Lin, Zhaoqu Hoe, Weihao Wang, and others are involved as well. Outside of Taiwan, 18 foreign museums and libraries from Asia, North America, Europe, and Australia have joined in, too. For instance, Wellcome Library in the United Kingdom, The Cleveland Museum of Art in the United States, and the Tokyo National Museum and so on. Users can seamlessly roam the vast collections on a single platform across borders and regions.
The creation of the “Linking ∞ Connecting the World” marks the first in Taiwan Museums. The key lies in the construction that made up of various “relationships” between collections, including the themes of the collection (such as parent-child, season), the nature of the collection (such as type, material, color), the background information (such as the author’s interpersonal network, time, place), etc. This knowledge structure is experimentally used to construct a set of mechanisms for concatenating collections. Such exploration can not only break the boundaries between museums and connect different disciplines, but also inspires people to explore more with exploratory clues. As the case mentioned previously, the content and themes of the collection: “getting dressed”, “beauty”, and “bathing” are joined to the interpersonal networks such as “works of author’s friends” and other factors. This is how a 1,000 years-old plus paintings, archived by The British Museum, connects with Taiwanese Contemporary Artists’ landscape painting and sculpture of cultural institutions. From still to dynamic, even the movie is engaged, too. It shows the span and diversity of collections in time, geography, and genres.
The Most Excellent Collections Ever- 59 Exhibitions Launched Online
Extending our collaboration with the Chinese Association of Museums, the ASCDC successfully invited 43 museums and cultural institutions in Taiwan to promote 59 online exhibitions this year. The number and the scale of which are the highest in history. Especially when some institutions of Academia Sinica, including Academia Sinica’s Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Biodiversity Research Center, Life Science Library, Museum of Institute of Ethnology, and Museum of the Institute of History and Philology, responded to the call enthusiastically. The participants are from three main branches: Mathematics and Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and the Humanities and Social Sciences.
The topics of this year’s online exhibitions cover natural ecology, art, history, and local characteristics. It varies from butterflies, phalaenopsis, and marine biology pioneers in Taiwan; paintings and calligraphies of celebrities, old movies, National Treasure Panlong candlesticks; puppets, glass crafts, Austronesian food culture; tribal mask culture, Traditional Chinese medicine, to 228 cultural relics, broadcasting equipment, Ceramics used in traditional life, etc. These subjects represent thousands of aspects of our diverse society. Besides, the fascinating attractions of the outlying islands of Kinmen, and aboriginal tribes have left a mark with their beauty by becoming part of the exhibitions.
Among all exhibitions held online, “What You May Not Know about the Hakka”, curated by the Museum of Institute of Ethnology, is accompanied by a Hakka-language audio guide provided by curator, Shiun-Wey Huang, and many others to enhance the audience’s immersive viewing experience. The “Unfading Splendor” focuses on the origin and development of Burmese classical music “thachìn gyì”. Except for making sounds with Burmese musical instruments, an Image Tagging module is also used to simultaneously display textual description and additional information of each individual objects on the main image. Moreover, through the marked group classification function, the audience can quickly and more systematically grasp the musical instrument knowledge of the Burmese orchestra. The Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute’s “Bright as Ever: The UNION and Their Films” found the factory aerial photos built by the UNION Film Production in 1970. With the assistance from the Center for Geographic Information Science, RCHSS, Academia Sinica, the hand-painted drafts and aerial photos of the studio emerged after applying the function-“Overlay Image Comparison”.
Tsung-huang Hsiao, Deputy Minister of State Affairs of the Ministry of Culture, Chairman of the Chinese Association of Museums, pointed out that the theme of this year’s International Museum Days is “The Power of Museums”. It includes progress and development that museums have made in digital innovation. The ongoing COVID-19 has catalyzed many aspects and innovative actions of museums in digital transformation. Open Museum is actively exploring the diversified presentation of digital exhibitions. Moreover, collaborating and integrating with domestic museums by this opportunity to create limitless participatory possibilities for civil society to engage in.
The online display on 518 International Museum Day has become a tradition of sharing and co-creation in domestic museums. ASCDC’s Director, Hsi-yuan Chen, expressed his gratitude for all responses from the museums. He promised that the “Open Museum” would continue to strengthen the service and connection between virtuality and reality, furthermore, to surpass its limitations. In the near future, Automatic Image Tagging, Linked Open Data (LOD) and other innovative technologies will be incorporated and integrated into this platform. It is hoped that in the nearest future, people could freely and easily dig the treasure of knowledge and heritage in the digital world and even construct their own museums and curate their own exhibitions.
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