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Innovation takes museums into the future

By LI BINGCUN in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2022-12-14 07:53

Dreamscape of the Qianlong Emperor, an installation at the Hong Kong Palace Museum, features an imagined narrative of the emperor dreaming about his deceased wife. Visitors view the work looking up from a couch. PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFFREY SHAW/HONG KONG PALACE MUSEUM

Freeman Lau Siu-hong, who is responsible for the HKPM's brand design, said the institution has a wealth of intellectual property to exploit, such as its magnificent building, spectacular national treasures on loan from Beijing, well-curated themed exhibitions, and new works created by local artists to reinterpret the Palace Museum culture.

Desmond Hui Cheuk-kuen, who heads the Department of Art and Design at Hang Seng University of Hong Kong, said the city's promotion and exploitation of local cultural relics progressed relatively slowly for a long time.

He now feels it is time for Hong Kong to adopt a more creative approach to telling the stories behind these relics, in view of the city's position as a hub for arts and cultural exchanges between China and the rest of the world. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's new-term government has also drawn up fresh blueprints for the cultural industry, Hui said.

Noting that the numerous innovative methods employed by mainland museums can inspire the city, he hopes Hong Kong can better tap the value of distinctive cultural exhibits to highlight the integration of Eastern and Western culture.

Hui's university is also setting its sights on new opportunities resulting from the introduction of a master's degree in cultural heritage management next year, which will also include courses to better promote the city's cultural relics. The university has had bachelor's degree studies on cultural and creative industries since 2017.

Regional strengths

Bringing cultural relics closer to the public at national level appears to be accelerating.

The Palace Museum in Beijing has become the nation's top cultural and creative product brand — launching a television series featuring the product design ideas and behind-the-scenes stories of its cultural innovation.

In June, the Sanxingdui Ruins site in Sichuan province, in collaboration with TV stations, livestreamed its excavations for three consecutive days, attracting some 10 million views.

At Henan Museum in Zhengzhou, Henan province, blind boxes, which are bought without the customer knowing the contents, give buyers a taste of being an archaeologist. The boxes offer tools for customers to dig up replicas of the museum's relics.

Chen, from Guangdong Museum, who is also director-general of the Greater Bay Area Cultural and Creative Industry Alliance, said the area boasts a wealth of cultural relics themed on overseas trade and exchanges, Hong Kong and Macao's international experience in cultural product design, and frontier technologies from local tech giants.

Chen said he was impressed by a museum in Guangdong that used mud from the Nanhai One, an ancient shipwreck in the South China Sea, to make brush pots and tea cups as souvenirs. He encouraged museums to use more unconventional ways to promote cultural relics.

Lau, the HKPM designer, said cities in the Greater Bay Area have ambitious cultural development plans, plenty of leading design talent, and rich resources to produce cultural products. However, he said the plans drawn up by different cities in the area lack synergy.

In Beijing, in addition to the Palace Museum, intellectual property development at lesser-known cultural attractions has been coordinated via the annual Beijing Design Week. Lau hopes that in the future, cultural resources IP development in the Greater Bay Area can be planned together by institutions.

Chen said museums are not ivory towers, and the efforts they make are designed to attract more visitors to appreciate their exhibits. With museum staff members coming up with numerous innovative ideas, cultural relics are becoming increasingly accessible to the public, he added.


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