What is the future of museums?

On the 2021 International Museum Day theme poster issued by the International Museum Association, the portraits of the characters wearing virtual glasses are particularly eye-catching, clearly outlining the future picture of the museum's digital trend.

As the new crown pneumonia epidemic is still spreading globally, digitalization is more urgent and important for museum development.

Recently, the Dunhuang Research Institute, the Guimet Museum of France and Tencent jointly launched an online transnational seminar to conduct in-depth discussions on topics such as "the future of cultural relics digitalization", "cultural relics digital sharing, dissemination and protection", and share digital development with global cultural and cultural institutions Practical results and experience.

Digitization is an inevitable trend

  "It is our development direction to make cultural heritage visible to more people through new media." Zhao Shengliang, Dean of the Dunhuang Academy, said when talking about how cultural and cultural institutions promote digitalization.

  There are currently 735 caves in Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, including 492 well-preserved caves with frescoes and colored sculptures, and 45,000 square meters of frescoes.

As a "gatekeeper", what Zhao Shengliang remembers most is the irreversible decline of cultural relics. "It is not a large piece of falling off, but a gradual damage to the granulation. It can not be seen in one or two years; the color is obviously faded in ten or twenty years."

  In the late 1980s, under the leadership of the then Dean Fan Jinshi, the Dunhuang Academy began to explore the use of digital technology to permanently preserve and utilize the grotto cultural relics.

Zhao Shengliang recalled that the first use of film cameras to record murals, because the film will fade when stored, in order to ensure clear images, each photo can only record a small frame, a mural requires thousands of photos to stitch together.

Over the past 30 years, with technological advancement, the number of images collected today has reached one billion or tens of billions of pixels, and more than 200 caves have been digitally collected.

  After mastering the digital data, the question that ensues is how to use it.

In 2014, the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes Digital Exhibition Center was completed, and digital materials were made into films for tourists to enjoy, giving them a complete and immersive experience.

  "The benefits of this move are beyond imagination." Zhao Shengliang said.

In the past few years, the pressure on the reception of tourists at the Dunhuang Grottoes has not been small. Tourists often crowded in at noon, which not only caused crowding, but the surge of heat and carbon dioxide may also harm the cave paintings.

With the digital exhibition at the Digital Exhibition Center, Mogao Grottoes has greatly promoted the reservation and orderly visit of tourists.

  Since then, the Dunhuang Research Institute has taken greater steps on the road of digital exploration.

For example, in foreign exhibitions, in the past faced with the problems of heavy physical objects, expensive transportation, and difficult protection. Even many copies are precious cultural relics that are inconvenient to move. It is not easy to organize two or three foreign exhibitions a year.

Later, whether it was the 3D printing of the cave frame, the 1:1 restoration of the real scene of the Mogao Grottoes, or the use of digital projection to dynamically display the effect of the mural, the "live" Dunhuang was praised by the visitors and organized the number of exhibitions in other places. It also increased to more than ten times a year.

How 1+1 is greater than 2

  In Zhao Shengliang’s view, digitization is now of great significance to the three core tasks of the Dunhuang Academy of "protection, inheritance, and promotion". At the same time, it also requires more forces to participate in cooperation and advance the solution of difficult problems-in terms of digital collection dedicated to protection. , Mogao Grottoes still have about 70% of the caves to be collected.

Many caves are small in size and complex in structure. The current collection equipment is inaccessible, and better technology is urgently needed. In terms of dissemination, how to use digitalization to develop more cultural relics display forms and rely on a mobile phone to display rich culture has always been the Dunhuang Research Institute. Questions to think about.

  It was against this background that at the end of 2017, Dunhuang Research Institute and Tencent reached a strategic cooperation.

"Dunhuang Research Institute has accumulated a large number of digital achievements, but how these achievements can be transformed to have an influence among young people and use the power of science and technology to let more people feel the beauty of Dunhuang. We hope to play the role of'connector, translator, and new messenger'. Role.” said Liu Xiaolan, deputy general manager of the Marketing and Public Relations Department of Tencent Group.

  How to connect?

One is an academic cultural and cultural institution, and the other is a technological Internet technology company. It is not easy to connect well.

Tencent employees who participated in the Dunhuang project recalled that at the beginning of the cooperation, the teachers of the Dunhuang Research Institute were very cautious about the interpretation of entertainment and youth: words like "Datang Band C debut" appeared in the copy of interactive products, which would be questioned at first There is no source, but after further explanation by the project team, it is also understood.

In addition, when some products need to add narration and dialogue to classic literature stories, strict textual research is also required.

  "On the one hand, we must understand the professionalism of Dunhuang culture, have a rigorous attitude and awe; on the other hand, we must not lose insights into users and gradually connect their needs with the essence of Dunhuang culture." Liu Xiaolan said.

  The "Dunhuang Poetry Scarf" project launched at the end of 2018 is a typical case after the two sides continue to work together.

The Mogao Grottoes have more than 400 algae wells, but they are overlooked all year round because they are on the dome of the cave.

The designers digitally reconstructed the Mojing pattern and more than 200 mural patterns, combined them into design elements and put them into the mini program.

Users only need to slide their fingers to combine them to design a unique "Dunhuang Poetry Scarf".

This project welcomed 2.5 million unique visitors within three months of its launch, which exceeded the number of offline visitors of Mogao Grottoes in one year.

  "Tencent knows more about what users need and what they think. Combining with our highly academic unit, the culture will suddenly emit new light." Zhao Shengliang believes that digital cooperation, the effect of 1+1 is far greater than 2. .

  Not only the "Dunhuang Poetry Scarf", the Dunhuang Research Institute and Tencent also developed the "Wisdom Kit H5", Dunhuang Animation Drama, Light Up Mogao Grottoes, etc., and finally integrated them into the official platform of the "Dunhuang Dunhuang" mini program .

The "Travel Dunhuang" mini program was launched in February last year and has been visited by nearly 40 million people so far.

During the new crown pneumonia epidemic last year, the Dunhuang Grottoes ceased to be open. The "Travel in Dunhuang" applet not only allowed the public to see Dunhuang through mobile phones and the Internet, but also further extended the influence of Dunhuang culture.

  Users can not only explore murals from the dimensions of art type, dynasty, color, etc., but also experience creative projects for coloring murals, subsidize cave mural restoration, customize "Dunhuang Poetry Towel" and place an order for purchase.

In the future, the mini program will also serve tourists visiting Dunhuang on the spot, equipped with functions such as ticket purchase and maps.

It can be said that a malleable "New Dunhuang" that is not hindered by time and space is being built on the new media side.

Let Wenbo surpass time and space

  "Dunhuang culture seems to be traditional, far away from modern society, but it is not." Zhao Shengliang introduced, "The murals record all aspects of ancient life. The works of each dynasty reflect the most fashionable and novel things at that time. Many things are placed. It’s not outdated even now.” He believes that traditional culture has been passed down and guarded from generation to generation and has a rich heritage. The key lies in how to spread it to make young people like it.

  The cooperation with external institutions such as Tencent in recent years has also given the Dunhuang Academy enlightenment, that is, cultural institutions must face the society and actively promote professional academic achievements to the public.

"Even if young people do not have a systematic study of Dunhuang culture, they can still enjoy the beauty, perceive interest, and then have a longing for traditional culture." Zhao Shengliang said.

  At the moment, the Dunhuang Academy has many explorations in the field of digitalization that urgently need to be launched.

In March of this year, it signed a new three-year strategic cooperation agreement with Tencent. The two parties will establish a joint working group to introduce AI disease recognition technology, immersive remote consultation technology, etc., to help the protection and restoration of Dunhuang murals; to jointly strengthen overseas Dunhuang The cultural exchanges of cultural relics collection institutions promote the development of Dunhuang cultural research services to jointly build the "One Belt One Road"; based on existing achievements, expand new cultural and creative cooperation, create a 30-episode series of animation dramas based on Dunhuang murals, and further tell the story of Dunhuang.

  In addition to focusing on digital collection and dissemination, Zhao Shengliang also cast his sights on more distant overseas.

In 2017, the Dunhuang Research Institute launched the "Digital Dunhuang" resource library in English and shared the high-definition images of 30 caves in the digital resource library globally.

Due to historical reasons, a large number of Dunhuang cultural relics have been lost overseas, and similar models have been used to help cultural relics "digitally return". Zhao Shengliang also has expectations.

  In recent years, digital technology has also narrowed the distance between scholars from various countries.

A few years ago, an American doctoral student told Zhao Shengliang that it is very convenient to study Dunhuang studies through internet data.

Last year, "Travel in Dunhuang" was launched, and more overseas friends expressed their love for this small program.

  Sophie Macariou, chairman of the Guimet Museum in France, also very much agrees with Zhao Shengliang's point of view.

She believes that with the help of digitization, culture will transcend time. For example, games and other forms will allow young people to travel through centuries and enter Dunhuang culture subtly; culture will also travel across regions and even national boundaries, and everyone can share and protect cultural relics and history.

  Fan Jinshi, the honorary dean of the Dunhuang Academy, once pointed out that time is an irreversible subtraction. As time goes by, cultural relics will gradually lose their luster.

In Liu Xiaolan's view, digital technology is one of the few opportunities for addition in this process. Such addition will eventually transcend the barriers of time and space, allowing cultural stories to be preserved and extolled forever.

  Reporter: Zheng Na