International Museum Day celebrated with NFT, VR, and AI technology in China

May 19, 2022 0 Comments

Museums, just like other offline venues such as restaurants and physical stores, are not immune to COVID. As a new wave of COVID has affected many areas in China, tech companies came up with creative ways to celebrate the International Museum day on May 18.

Art Exhibitions China, a unit in charge of exhibiting, managing and researching art under the National Cultural Heritage Administration, hired a virtual employee, Wen Yaoyao, to commemorate the holiday. Wen Yaoyao is a virtual curator and docent created by Baidu AI Cloud and VR company JIIIMO with traditional Chinese aesthetics, who can explain the history and significance of each art piece stored in her database. She will also be able to host live streams and talk to visitors in multiple museums simultaneously.

Virtual museum curator Wen Yaoyao. Photo courtesy of Baidu.

With the development of AI technology and the emergence of digital human production platforms in China, there is huge potential for service virtual humans like Wen Yaoyao. The production period of 2D digital humans has shortened to minutes from weeks, and that of 3D hyper-realistic digital humans has shortened to 1-2 weeks from 2-3 months, according to Baidu.

While Wen Yaoyao can offer detailed explanations of each artifact, audiences who wish to learn about art and history through simple videos have another option at their fingertips. Google Art & Culture, in collaboration with the Liaoning Provincial Museum, Hubei Provincial Museum, and Hunan Provincial Museum, have selected treasures from their collections and made minute-long videos interpreting artworks with different techniques and aesthetic concepts. The videos have been posted on Weibo from May 16 to May 18, while soundtracks have been released on QQ Music via a partnership with Tencent Music Entertainment.

Screenshot of one of Google Art & Culture’s International Museum Day episodes, which discusses the use of shapes.

Ant Group celebrates the holiday with NFTs and a VR mini-program, in collaboration with a slew of museums and VR company 4DAGE. On mobile payment platform Alipay, 4DAGE launched virtual tours and exhibitions of 23 museums, including the historic Henan Museum and Zhejiang Provincial Museum in China and the Hetjens Museum in Germany, through a mini-program named “YunShangMiBao”. Within the program, users can navigate between multiple exhibitions, look at 3D replicas of artifacts, and “walk through” the galleries while listening to pre-recorded narrations.

Screenshots of two exhibitions in separate gallerias on YunShangMiBao mini-program in Alipay.

For those who want to own artworks instead of just looking at them, Alibaba’s online shopping platform T-Mall offers 20 digital collections remodeled after ancient art pieces, which are sold in T-Mall stores of 10 museums including

China’s National Library, Dunhuang Research Institute, National Grand Theatre, and Louvre Museum. The digital collections range from recreations of world-famous cultural relics such as Dunhuang Gleanings, Zizhi Tongjian (a history book published in 1084 AD), and the Victoire de Samothrace statue from the Louvre. There are also digital collections of musical masterpieces such as the “Voices of Spring” by Johann Strauss II.

Each piece would be limited in quantity and protected by Ant Chain, with a permanent deposit and unique number available only to the collector, according to T-Mall.

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