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Technology helps open up access to artifacts

Source: Time: 06 06,2022

Visitors use interactive displays to search for exhibits at Shanxi Provincial Museum. Wang Ruirui / For China Daily

Compared with traditional museum displays featuring static exhibits in glass showcases, a digitally empowered exhibition can offer a lot more to visitors. An intelligent exhibition at the Shanxi Provincial Museum demonstrated this to visitors recently.

Zhang Shuyue, a primary school student in the Shanxi provincial capital of Taiyuan, was first attracted to an array of electronic displays at the main hall of the museum when she visited the intelligent exhibition on May 28.

Each touch screen display links to the museum directory of each exhibit according to its category.

Zhang is an enthusiast of history and a frequent visitor to museum exhibitions. She said the electronic displays are of great help to visitors if they want to have a glimpse at the exhibits before visiting.

"You can immediately know where the most valuable exhibits are located and you are informed of the new arrivals at the museum," Zhang said. "It makes a visit much easier and more convenient."

She added: "What the display brings you is not a rough introduction. It can give you the details of every exhibit."

She then closely examined a 3D picture of bird-shaped bronze utensil. "I have seen this ancient bronzeware many times but I couldn't have a close view because it was behind glass," Zhang said.

She can now carefully examine the exhibit by touching the zoom-in button. She noticed that there was an introduction in both vocal and written forms when a detail was highlighted.

"You can use the display beforehand as a warmup to the visit, afterward you can use it to enhance your memory and understanding of the exhibits," Zhang said. "This digitally strengthened exhibition is a great collection of history and culture."

According to Bo Chunyan, an official for information technology at the museum, said it is using various digital platforms to enhance the visitor experience.

"We have a WeChat account to inform visitors of the latest updates and share experts' insights into the exhibits and the stories behind them," Bo said.

Intelligent and digitalized exhibitions are a new trend in Shanxi's museums, which house some 3.1 million exhibits in total.

In addition to the use of virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D technologies to enhance visitor experiences, museums are using online shows to make exhibitions accessible to more residents.

"Online shows are a great chance for museum enthusiasts, especially in a time of COVID-19 outbreaks," said Hou Yanfang, an official at the Taiyuan Museum in the capital city of Shanxi.

Guo Yanjie contributed to this story.
By Yuan Shenggao