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China to build smart museums with AI, AR and VR

forbidden city

China is working to build smart museums with the latest technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR)

The country’s National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA) confirmed the news at the Digital China Summit (via

Guan Qiang, deputy head of NCHA, confirmed that they are promoting the use of AI, VR, AR, immersion display and smart guidance at the country’s many cultural heritage institutions.

“Cultural heritage resources should take the express train of digital technology to reach more people,” Guan said.

Guan added that the NCHA has also been building a nationwide database for cultural relics, as big data is increasingly used in cultural heritage protection.

Sharing knowledge along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road

Wang Xudong, the new curator of the Palace Museum in Beijing, also known as the Forbidden City, spoke about the importance of digitalisation in the future work of the museum.

Wang explained that digitalisation started on the museum’s architecture and collections in the late 1990s, helping the Palace Museum to build a stronger connection with visitors while minimising harm to relics.

The curator added that the attraction is willing to work with others, especially those situated along the  21st Century Maritime Silk Road, to promote digitalisation in museums and world cultural heritage sites.

According to the NCHA, the number of museums in China has increased from 349 in 1978 to over 5,000. China owns 767,000 sites of immovable cultural relics and over 100 million movable artefacts.

Protecting relics through museum digitalisation

In December it was announced that museums including London’s Natural History Museum and the Smithsonian in Washington DC are working to create a “global digital museum” to bring fossils out from the archives.

Earlier this month, it was confirmed that the Palace Museum and Pop Life Global have joined forces to announce a DC collectibles collaboration.

Businesses from all sectors have been expanding into the growing Chinese market. Now, many western museums are growing their brands in China.

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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