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16 September 2019—The Palace Museum and Tencent have signed an agreement to further develop existing cooperation with a new three-year focus on technological application and academic innovation through digitization, cloud enablement, and AI enablement in continued expansion of the “Digital Palace Museum” by way of digitizing cultural artifacts and cultural research. Meanwhile, the two parties are joining with China Broadcasting Network Corporation Ltd. to explore combined applications of 5G technology and innovative cultural products for the promotion of the new program Glory of the Forbidden City (Gugong rumeng).
The Palace Museum’s Director Wang Xudong expressed how digital technology is driving a widespread and profound “digital reform” throughout society. Over the past twenty years, the Museum has made substantial progress in establishing initial digitalization. However, more cooperation with outstanding partners is needed to construct a more comprehensive “Digital Palace Museum”.
Tencent’s chief operating officer Mark Ren (Ren Yuxin) noted that the Palace Museum is an essential element of traditional Chinese culture while Tencent is a technological and cultural company with an internet foundation. Over the past three years, the two parties have worked continuously to explore the combined use of internet technologies and traditional culture as a model for cultural transmission and have together established a new benchmark in the digitization of museology and cultural heritage. During this historic occasion of the seventieth anniversary of the founding of New China and the sixth centennial of the construction of the Forbidden City, Tencent and the Palace Museum are once again joining hands to undertake the historic mission of cultural preservation research and traditional culture propagation while embracing the integration of 5G, AI, and other technologies with cultural industries to bring cultural artifacts alive and enable traditional culture to glimmer in the digital age.
Cheng Wu, vice president of Tencent Holdings Limited and CEO of Tencent Pictures, said that the latest technology and a completely new type of cultural innovation is needed to change the Palace Museum from a majestic architectural complex and top-class museum into a cultural symbol that moves people even more and a cultural experience people are able to participate in even more. Tencent’s partnership with the Palace Museum to construct a digital catalogue of cultural heritage will improve the user experience, stimulate the feelings of the masses in this three-dimensional propulsion of the construction of the “Digital Palace Museum”, and develop a set of digital solutions for the future.
This strategic agreement is a new stage in Tencent and the Museum’s “Culture+Technology” cooperative project. In the past three years, the two parties have promoted traditional culture and digital innovation through the Next Idea youth innovation competition with various games, cartoons, music productions, and tools aimed at bringing cultural heritage alive. In these three years, twenty teams from Tencent have worked with researchers and digitization-personnel at the Museum to develop and launch over ten projects. This cooperation has allowed young people to interpret the architecture and artifacts of the Museum in new ways through projects such as the applet map and guide Wanzhuan Gugong (lit. Romping through the Palace Museum), Gugong: Koudai gongjiang (lit. Palace Museum: Pocket Palace-Craftsman) game for WeChat, Palace-Museum themed emoticons for QQ, traditional Palace Museum clothing for Miracle Nikki (Qiji nuannuan), makeup selections based on national treasures at the Palace Museum for the photoshop app Pitu (Tiantian P tu), and traditional painting and music programs. The comic book Gugong huisheng (lit. “Echoes of the Palace Museum”) about the evacuation of the Museum’s collection to the South received a warm reception with high ratings by young people.
Constructing a Digital Catalogue of Cultural Heritage
Over the next three years, Tencent will be providing financial and technical support for the digital preservation of the Palace Museum’s cultural heritage. The two parties will combine efforts to research methods for digital collection, storage, and display of cultural artifacts with a goal to complete the collection and refinement of images of 100,000 cultural artifacts.
Meanwhile, Tencent Cloud is providing technology and a platform to assist the Palace Museum in the management and upgrading of its digital catalogue. This project will provide greater quality to the open service through improved search functions, intellectual property protections, and cloud services with the establishment of standards for cloud services in museums and related cultural industries. These efforts correspond to their joint participation in project research supervised by the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Additionally, Tencent’s AI, database, and user-research specialists and personnel will research ways to improve the Museum’s digital data and product services to support the continued construction of the “Digital Palace Museum”. The two parties will conduct exchange and training for talented individuals involved in applications for digitized cultural heritage through an international forum on “Culture+Technology”.
Promoting Glory of the Forbidden City with 5G and Cultural Innovation
The sixth centennial of the Forbidden City coincides with the beginning of the revolutionary 5G era of rapid data processing and low latency. The Palace Museum and Tencent have partnered with China Broadcasting Network Corporation Ltd. (CBN) to develop applications of 5G technology and innovative cultural products in publicizing the program Glory of the Forbidden City (Gugong rumeng).
Glory of the Forbidden City by Tencent Pictures was produced under the supervision of the Palace Museum. The production team has been exploring an innovative model with the combination of 5G+4K ultra HD, viewer interaction with multiple outcomes, and immersive scenes to tell the story of the youthful architect Kuai Xiang (1398–1481) and the construction of the Forbidden City and to transmit the legacy of Chinese craftsmanship and the history and culture of the Palace Museum. This franchise will be expanded with short videos, comic books, and other products aimed at passing on the legacy of the Palace Museum to youth.
In addition to this feature series, the two parties plan to realize the potential of VR immersion in a 5G environment and interactive screens through a variety of documentaries, movies, and other productions planned to document the work of individuals associated with the Palace Museum and the artifacts and architecture of the Forbidden City.
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Zhuang Ying