Museums' digital doors open wide

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Inevitable trend

An artist's impression of people lining up to attend an evening activity at the new Museum of London venue in Smithfield. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

Han Bing, chief researcher of culture and entertainment for global consultancy Roland Berger, said going digital is an inevitable trend for museums, and the pandemic has accelerated this.

"Compared with offline museums, virtual institutions are not limited by space, can be more expressive by using technologies, and have a stronger interaction with users," she said.

"Moreover, virtual museums can experiment with innovation to offer more flexible, interesting and entertaining forms of education for their audiences."

Han added that while the pandemic will not totally change people's habit of visiting museums, it may bring a certain degree of change.

"In the post-pandemic era, the positioning of offline and virtual museums will be different. Both online and offline models have their advantages and disadvantages, and they will certainly coexist, with a relatively clear division of functions and features."

While some people will find that virtual tours provide novel experiences and convenience, others may prefer visiting museums in-person to view their collections, she said.

Underlying aims

Richard Whiddington, senior staff writer at Jing Culture and Commerce in New York, which specializes in cultural strategies, technologies and solutions, said the pandemic has not changed the underlying aims of museums to serve, connect and educate audiences, and to protect their collections for future generations.

"For many museums, however, the way in which they accomplish their missions is changing. Digital is pivotal to these efforts," he said.

Whiddington added that adopting digital strategies is in no way "incongruous with curating offline exhibitions" and the key will be finding a balance and integrating offline and online experiences.

Ke, the internet company worker in Shenzhen, said that although she enjoys the convenience and interaction of visiting museums online, she is looking forward to experiencing them in-person again when the institutions and international borders reopen.

"Museums are the soul of a city. Traveling to a city and experiencing its cultural atmosphere can provide visitors with a richer sensory experience," she said.

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