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The touring exhibition "Discovering the Hall of Mental Cultivation: A Digital Experience" was successfully launched on April 19, 2019 at the Palace of Established Happiness (Jianfu gong) by Secretary Du Haijiang of the Palace Museum's Party Committee and Wan Jie, CEO of Artron Art Group.
Originally presented at the Gate of Correct Deportment (Duan men) as a stationary exhibition, "Discovering the Hall of Mental Cultivation: A Digital Experience" was opened in October 2017 as the Museum’s second completely digital exhibition and may be visited from April to September with free tickets reserved via the Museum’s online ticketing system. While the actual Hall of Mental Cultivation (Yangxin dian) undergoes restorations as part of a large-scale conservation project, visitors may enjoy this virtual representation of its history and associated cultural heritage.
The Hall of Mental Cultivation is one of the most important palatial courtyards in the Forbidden City and an important source for understanding Qing-dynasty (1644–1911) architecture and the daily workings of the imperial court. Beginning with the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1723–1735), a total of eight emperors utilized the space for administration and other daily activities. Since 2006, researchers and staff at the Palace Museum have been using digital technologies to document and recreate virtual representations of the Hall’s architecture, period décor, and artwork and, as a result, have amassed a large database of high-resolution digital assets. This exhibition has been designed with those assets, research by experts of various fields, and the latest AI and VR technology. Some of the newest features include role playing as an emperor in holding an audience with ministers, reviewing official reports or petitions (i.e., memorials), and appreciating art or as a chef preparing imperial cuisine. In these ways, visitors can experience a virtual day at the Hall of Mental Cultivation.
During the launching ceremony, Secretary Du Haijiang of the Palace Museum's Party Committee noted that the Palace Museum is continually adopting the most advanced digital technology and digital concepts with efforts to accumulate abundant cultural resources for more interesting and innovative methods of presentation and media that will be more personal for visitors.
In order to utilize the advantages of digital technology and allow those geographically removed from the Forbidden City to virtually enter the Hall of Mental Cultivation, this exhibition was hosted for two months by the Artron Art Group during the Shenzhen International Cultural Industry Fair in 2018. Having been enjoyed by thousands of visitors during that trial run, the Palace Museum and Arton Art Group have organized this touring exhibition to share the experience with residents of many Chinese cities over a three-year period. More people will be able to enjoy the unique charism of “Technology + Palace Museum Culture.” The exhibition’s first stop is Lujiazui in the heart of Shanghai from April 2019. The digital experience will unlock a vivid and in-depth journey of discovery into this unique imperial office-residence complex.
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Zhuang Ying