Monday, February 23, 2009

The Digital Palace Museum

The Palace Museum was originally installed in the imperial palace of two consecutive dynasties-the Ming and the Qing. In 1961, imperial palace was designated by the China State Council as one of China’s foremost-protected cultural heritage sites, and was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. The collections used to be unapproachable, however now having been converted into a pubic museum and the Digital Place Museum which was established in 2001, is dedicated to make the place museum itself more accessible to the whole world.
There are Chinese Traditional, Chinese Simplified, Japanese, and English versions.
General Introduction represents a brief history of the Palace Museum including location, area, layout, founding, collection as well as collection evacuation. News, events, calendar and notices are published at Express News.
Collections and Virtual Exhibitions are main parts. The collections are distributed in different categories, by clicking each category; the pop-out window will show visitors a group of thumbnails of images. By further clicking the individual image, pop-out window will represent explanatory text. However, visitors are not allowed to zoom in the images. The Virtual exhibitions cover various aspects of the Museum. This series of exhibitions is noted for its small scale, simple exposition and flexible format. The exhibitions are based on the research of the museum staff and are not exhibited in real museum due to the space limitation. Currently, there are six exhibits online:
- Art and Chivalry in Spain: The Royal Armoury of Madrid;
- European Clocks and Watches in the Palace Museum;
- Acquisition of Paintings and Calligraphy in the Past Decade;
- Selections from Sun Yingzhou's Ceramics Donation;
- Ruyi Scepters in the Qing Court Collection;
- Yongzheng's Screen of Twelve Beauties;
The Palace Museum holds the copyrights of all images, normally, images are not allowed be resold, copied or subjected to media changes unless authorized. But the Palace Museum provides particular service for academic and educational use.
The interfaces are well designed with beautiful images and detailed explanation text.
Overall speaking, the digital Palace Museum is well designed and user friendly. Comparing with the Musee du Louvre I did last week, at least, there are another two language versions besides Chinese.

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