According to a survey by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), in 106 countries, more than 80% of museums have reduced activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 12.8% of museums may be permanently closed. According to a survey report released by the American Association of Museums (AAM), since the suspension of global art activities in March 2020, 56% of museums in the United States have taken mandatory vacations or layoffs. Among them, 22% of museums have laid off full-time employees and 28% of museums have laid off full-time employees. The museum has laid off part-time employees. According to official French data, the epidemic caused the revenue of the French tourism industry to plummet by 41% to 89 billion euros in 2020. According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics of the United Kingdom, the number of visitors to British museums in 2020 has fallen by 77%, and more than half of the time they are closed. Even if it reopens, the number of receptions is only 20% to 30% of the normal passenger flow. The number of visitors to the Prado Museum, Spain's largest art museum, was only 852,000 in 2020, a decrease of 76% year-on-year. The number of visitors to Italy’s famous Vatican Museums and Uffizi Museums decreased by 81% and 72% respectively last year. The National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin was also closed for approximately 186 days, resulting in a 73% reduction in visitors. In contrast, under the pandemic restriction policies, Chinese museums held more than 29,000 exhibitions and received 540 million visitors in 2020, a 56% year-on-year decrease, but compared to the 70%+ drop in visitor traffic in western countries, it is already very rare. According to the big data of cultural and museum tours in the first half of 2021 released by Ctrip, the number of visitors who booked museum tickets through the Ctrip platform in China in the first half of 2021 has increased by 75% compared to the first half of 2019, which has exceeded the pre-pandemic level. For this project, I interviewed four different types of museums and five volunteers with varying interests in museums. I hope to hear the voices of museums from China from their individual micro-perspectives, and to gain some experience in fighting the pandemic that I can share with museums around the world that are still in crisis, and help these museums get through the pandemic.
根据国际博物馆理事会 (ICOM) 的一项调查,在106个国家中,受到新冠疫情影响,超过 80% 的博物馆减少了活动,而12.8%的博物馆可能会永久关闭。美国博物馆联盟(AAM)发布的调查报告显示,自2020年3月全球艺术活动暂停以来,美国有56%的博物馆都进行了强制休假或裁员,其中22%的博物馆裁减了全职员工,28%的博物馆裁减了兼职员工。据法国官方数据,疫情导致法国旅游业2020年收入暴跌41%,至890亿欧元。英国国家统计局的数据显示,英国的博物馆2020年的参观人数下降了77%,而且有一半以上的时间都处于闭馆状态。即使重新开放,接待人数也只是正常客流量的20%至30%。西班牙最大的艺术博物馆普拉多博物馆2020年的访客人数仅为85.2万,同比减少了76%。意大利著名的梵蒂冈博物馆和乌菲兹博物馆去年的访客数量分别减少了81%和72%。都柏林的爱尔兰国家美术馆也关闭了大约186天,导致游客减少了73%。 相较之下,在疫情限流措施下,中国博物馆在2020年举办了2.9万多个展览,接待5.4亿人次观众,同比下降了56%,但相比欧美国家70%以上的客流降幅,已然十分难得。根据携程发布的2021年上半年文博旅游大数据显示,2021年上半年,在中国,通过携程平台预订博物馆门票的游客人次,相比2019年上半年增长75%,已超过疫情前水平。 在这个项目中,我采访了四个不同类型的博物馆,以及五名对博物馆的兴趣点各有不同的志愿者,希望从他们的微观视角出发,能听听来自中国的博物馆声音,并从中获得一些对抗新冠疫情的经验,与世界各地仍处于危机中的博物馆分享、帮助这些博物馆度过疫情难关。

The pandemic is not only a crisis, but also a process of rapid “reshuffle,” ecological reconstruction, and transformation. Digitization is a necessary point of transformation for most museums.

 

Background

       Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), is a severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by a novel coronavirus.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of October 14, 2021, more than 220 countries and territories had a cumulative total of more than 200 million confirmed cases and 4.86 million deaths worldwide. In response to the pandemic, countries around the world have adopted strict border controls and quarantine measures, including nationwide blockade orders, complete shutdowns of the land, sea, and air transportation, bans on foreign travelers, and the requirement for returning residents to undergo medical examinations or provide proof of no prior infection. Countries have implemented lockdown policies, urging people to wash their hands frequently, wear masks, maintain social distances, and prohibit out-of-home activities unless necessary. To reduce the risk of cluster infections, companies are requiring employees to work from home and schools to teach online from home to prevent companies and schools from becoming breaches of the epidemic. Tourism and foodservice industries worldwide have been forced to cancel or postpone cultural events as a result of the outbreak and the outbreak control policies. Museums have been forced to close temporarily or even permanently due to the pandemic, resulting in significant downsizing of staff, which has affected museum workers, including reductions in pay or unpaid leave, layoffs, or even termination of contractual employment.

       According to two studies published by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in May 2020,

During the COVID-19 pandemic, some 85,000 museums worldwide were forced to close temporarily, representing 90.9% of all museums. 12.8% of the world’s museums, equivalent to one in eight museums, will close permanently. Another 19.2% of museums are unsure of their future viability. Nearly 83% of the surviving museums have been forced to reduce the size of their programs, and another 20% have been forced to reduce staff numbers. Only 7.3% of museum staff, including guards, grounds maintenance, and collections managers, remained on site during the closure.

      Subsequently, although successful in halting the expanded spread of the epidemic, with some countries gradually lifting city closures and reopening museums since May 2020, the significant reduction in museum revenues has already had a serious impact on museum operations.

 


Chinese Museums

The operation of Chinese museums is strongly supported by the Chinese government.

Funding

      Currently, China defines state-owned museums as cultural institutions of public interest, institutions that do not aim to make a profit, and museums need a large number of funds in order to carry out their business activities and meet the needs of society. For this reason, Chinese museums are financed mainly by government grants, supplemented by self-financing.

      The museum’s income is divided into three main categories: state budget allocations, income from the museum’s own organizations, and social funding.

 

  • State budget allocation: At present, there are two main ways of government financial allocation to museums: full allocation and differential allocation. The government applies full funding to museums that have no stable recurring operating income or low income; and differential funding (also known as “the two lines of income and expenditure”) to museums that have a certain amount of stable recurring operating income, but not enough to cover their recurring expenses and need financial assistance. (All profits are paid to the treasury and basic expenses are financed. However, there is a positive correlation between revenues and expenditures; generally the more revenue a museum contributes, the larger the total budget it can request from the government for the coming year. (Daily operating expenses, including staff salaries, building operation, and maintenance, etc.)
    However, even when the government fully allocates funds to a museum, the funds are mainly used for the museum’s daily operations. This means that even if a museum is fully funded by the government, it must develop its own sources of funding or expand its business to prove its value and obtain more government subsidies for its programs.
    • National Cultural Heritage Administration of the national cultural system museums to do focused funding subsidies, subsidized projects are mainly in 3 areas: ①, key maintenance. ②, key collection. ③, key excavations. These 3 subsidies are through the provinces (municipalities directly under the Central Government, autonomous regions) cultural administrative departments unified application, special allocation to some key museum construction projects, respectively, by the State Planning Commission and the Ministry of Finance separately allocated a large amount of money to support.

Since 2008, museums, memorials and patriotic education bases under the supervision of China’s national propaganda, culture and cultural relics departments have been partially or fully funded by the government and fully open to the public free of charge, except for museums of ruins and ancient buildings. By 2019, 4,929 museums in China were open for free, accounting for 89.05% of the total number of museums, and received 1.022 billion visitors throughout the year.

 

  • Income from the museum’s own organizations: admission revenue belongs to the museum business income, it is one of the main sources of income for most museums. In the current state of museum development in China, admission revenue plays a role in reducing the financial burden, and the government clearly stipulates that all admission revenue of state-run museums is paid to the treasury, while museum expenses are separately allocated by the treasury, i.e., “the two lines of income and expenditure” as it is known in the museum industry. For private museums, admission revenues are not paid to the treasury and are the most important component of revenue for the vast majority of private museums.
    In addition to admission revenue, museums provide paid services to the public through the resources they have for a fee, which can be seen as an exchange between the public goods they provide and the consumers who receive the services. Paid services include professional counseling, reproduction of cultural relics, painting and calligraphy framing, consultation, guided tours, etc. This should also belong to the museum business income. Museums currently carry out business projects such as dining halls, specialty gift stores, audio-visual stores, etc. Creative derivatives developed by museums for content are a big trend of business revenue in recent years, which will also be introduced in detail in this article.

 

  • Social funding: The museum’s social funding comes from three main sources: corporate donations, individual donations, and donations from social groups.
    • Corporate donations: As an entity specializing in business activities, enterprises must maintain a coherent relationship between their own interests and the public interest in order to survive and develop. Sponsorship of public welfare causes can win public praise and support, change the negative impact of enterprises, and create a good social image. From the actual donation situation of enterprises, it can be in the form of direct donation of funds or in the form of investment and establishment. Enterprises are motivated to donate, the key lies in how the museum attracts corporate donations.
    • Individual donations: A considerable number of affluent social classes have the financial strength to support the development of public welfare undertakings such as museums, and more and more people also recognize the significance of preserving national culture and cultural relics, and they are willing to contribute to society, which is the target we should actively strive for. Especially our overseas Chinese compatriots, have deep patriotic feelings but also understand the importance of protecting the national cultural relics, there are many compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan who are willing to fund donations. In addition, many foreigners are also willing to provide financial support. Most of the domestic individual donations are in-kind donations. However, in-kind donations can be very helpful to museum development. Social donations do not necessarily have to be in the form of funds. In-kind donations also bring social and economic benefits to museum development, and although they may not be in direct form, this effect is long-term, so when developing social funding for museums, it is also important to focus on the important role that social in-kind donations play in funding museum development, and the funds it brings are invisible.
    • Donations from social groups: Fundraising from social groups is an important part of the establishment of a new system for cultural relics, and an effective measure to address the shortage of funds for cultural and museum units. At present, most of the social donations received belong to the more well-known large museums or university museums, the generally small and medium-sized museums due to insufficient social advertising or social concern, many have not even met a donation.

 

Digitalization

      In 2016, the National Administration of Cultural Heritage, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the Ministry of Finance issued the “Internet + Chinese Civilization” three-year action plan. In this context, how to use the internet to effectively spread the excellent Chinese traditional culture has become an important topic of discussion in the field of museums.
The Palace Museum, for example, as one of the most important historical museums in China, actively explores the combination of the Internet, from the digital Palace to the Palace Taobao, to the Palace game, the Palace community … The Palace Museum has built the Palace official website as the core and main entrance, by the website group, APP applications, multimedia data resources and other information, online and offline interconnection of the aggregation platform.

    In 2020, museums across the country were closed for part of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, museums across the country presented more than 2,000 online exhibitions with a total of more than 5 billion views.

    According to statistics, during the pandemic, the National Administration of Cultural Heritage has recommended five batches of 250 online exhibitions, almost all the museums in the “cloud” and meet the audience. The Palace Museum launched “The Panoramic Palace Museum” “V Palace Museum” “Palace Museum — Famous Paintings” a variety of “cloud tour” ways. On the other hand, the National Museum of China, Nanjing Museum, Zhejiang Provincial Museum, and other major exhibitions have also been online.

       On February 20, Tiktok announced a “cloud tour” of nine major museums in the United Nations, realizing the exhibition without leaving home through live streaming. The British Museum’s narrator Changji was invited to design an exclusive live route that is different from the on-site browsing route. The British Museum’s first live broadcast in China attracted 2 million viewers.

      In the month of February alone, several online exhibition halls had more than 100,000 hits, and the total number of views reached 6 million within ten days of the launch of the “Cloud Tour Dunhuang” app; the Palace Museum extended the “Palace Museum in the Snow” IP to online, with 360,000 people enjoying the snow in the “Panoramic Palace Museum” online snow; Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum’s Terracotta digital exhibition hall has more than 280,000 popularity ……

 

Creative Derivatives

       In March 2014, the National Council issued the Opinions on Promoting the Integrated Development of Cultural, Creative and Design Services and Related Industries, marking the integrated development of cultural, creative, and design services and related industries as a national strategy. on March 20, 2015, the Regulations on Museums were officially implemented, making it clear that museums can engage in commercial business activities, explore the connotations of their collections, and integrate with cultural, creative, and tourism industries. It also encourages museums to raise funds through multiple channels to promote their own development. This provides an institutional guarantee for museums to develop cultural and creative products, and pushes the development of cultural and creative products into the “fast track”.

      In February 2017, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage put forward the development goals for 2020 in the “Thirteenth Five-Year Plan” for the development of national cultural relics: to create 50 museum cultural and creative product brands, to build 10 museum cultural and creative product R&D bases, and to have more than 50 cultural relics units and enterprises with annual sales of more than 10 million yuan, including more than 20 with annual sales of more than 20 million yuan.

      Compared with public museums, private museums are smaller in size, have a single source of funding, and have relatively simple collection themes. The pandemic has only further magnified the plight of non-state museums on a regular basis. Industry insiders believe that if they could use Internet thinking well, move exhibitions to the “cloud”, upgrade the output of exhibitions to output services, fully develop the value of classic collections, and launch more popular creative derivatives for young people, the “weak” non-state museums can also safely survive the pandemic crisis.


Kaifeng Museum

      Kaifeng Museum is located in the new district of Kaifeng City, Henan Province. It is a local comprehensive museum integrating display and exhibition, cultural relics collection, cultural relics protection, scientific research and propaganda, and education. The Kaifeng Museum was built in 1962, formerly known as the Kaifeng Exhibition Hall. in March 2014, the construction of the new Kaifeng Museum officially began and opened to the public in March 2018. With a total building area of 54,286 square meters, the Kaifeng Museum has four exhibition halls: the exhibition of fine stone carvings in the collection, the exhibition of woodblock prints in Kaifeng Zhuxian Town, the display of ancient civilization in Kaifeng, and the display of history and culture of Tokyo City in the Northern Song Dynasty. The exhibitions are mainly divided into three kinds: special exhibitions, Kaifeng history (permanent) exhibitions, and temporary exhibitions. As of September 2019, the Kaifeng Museum has 80,000 pieces of cultural relics in its collection. Kaifeng City Museum was rated as a second-class national museum in 2008 and a first-class national museum in 2016.

 

      The Kaifeng Museum is a first-class national public welfare unit of the state, and all expenses of the museum are borne by the government. Although it experienced closure during the pandemic, there was no financial or staff pressure. During the closure period, the museum staff still had the opportunity to organize online promotional and social education activities for the public, and to conduct daily office work online.

      The Kaifeng Museum was closed from January 24, 2020, due to the first outbreak of the pandemic, and reopened on March 24, 2020. With public access suspended during the closure period and all social and educational activities within the museum canceled. From interviews with Kaifeng Museum staff, we know that for the Kaifeng Museum, the flow of visitors returned to pre-pandemic levels a month or two after the resumption. However, due to the pandemic prevention and control measures, they are limited to 1,800 daily visitors and cannot provide manual guided tours.

      During the outbreak, Kaifeng Museum completed all the display exhibitions of the new museum as online virtual exhibitions. For example, “Jade Rite China – Exhibition of Jade Artifacts from Five Provinces and Cities”, “Exhibition of Ancient History and Culture of Kaifeng – Neolithic Period to Sui, Tang, and Five Dynasties Periods”, “Kaifeng Ancient Civilization Exhibition”, “Kaifeng Zhuxian Town Woodblock Print Exhibition”, etc. Through the PC client, public visitors can “travel to Kaifeng” online. The Kaifeng Museum participated in a series of live broadcasts on Weibo in conjunction with China’s cultural museums and launched the “Eight Dynasties and a Thousand Years of Beijing” theme of the cloud tour of the museum. Visitors can also listen to audio tours of some exhibits through the Kaifeng Museum’s WeChat official account. At the same time, Kaifeng Museum also actively participate in the online interactive activities held by the National Administration of Cultural Heritage and Cultural Blog Headlines, to popularize knowledge of cultural relics, such as “Read To Fight The Virus”, “Anti-Pandemic Action”, “Cultural Relics Blessings Praise The Motherland “, “Museum Tour”, “How Much Do You Know About Cultural Relics” and other. In terms of cultural education, Kaifeng Museum was also supported by the Kaifeng Municipal Bureau of Education and Sports, the Communist Youth League Municipal Committee, which launched an online study session for elementary school students in the city, with an online broadcast of more than 300,000 views.

      The staff of the Kaifeng Museum, in the Social Education Department, for example, remained online officing during the closure of the pandemic, planning online promotional and social education activities and optimizing the words of the guided tours.

    At the end of the pandemic closure, the Kaifeng Museum implemented very strict anti-pandemic measures, such as setting a daily limit on the number of visitors (the maximum number of visitors per day was capped at 1,800, and visits needed to be booked in advance by ID card in real names to avoid centralized admission), requiring visitors to wear masks, scan and show their health codes and visit reservation codes, and test their body temperature before entering the museum. The Kaifeng Museum canceled the group reception service, set up one-way visiting lines, temporary isolation points, equipped with sufficient masks, disinfectant, alcohol, gloves, non-contact temperature measuring equipment, special bins (buckets) for recycling discarded masks, etc. It temporarily closed the exhibition halls or areas that could not guarantee the disinfection and pandemic prevention requirements, interactive equipment and services for visitors, and areas where people gather or are confined. Internally, the Kaifeng Museum educated the front-line staff of the open department on the knowledge and system of pandemic prevention and control through online training and other forms, requiring all front-line staff to wear masks on duty uniformly, with masks changed daily and work clothes washed and disinfected regularly. The museum provides audiences with audio guide equipment, wheelchairs, strollers, umbrellas, bag lockers, and other items, requiring each to be sanitized after one visitor’s usage; the audience information desk needs to be disinfected at least four times a day; the public facilities in the exhibition hall, elevators, handrails, buttons, electronic touch screens, and other equipment wiped with 75% alcohol cotton balls not less than four times a day; the bathrooms used by the visitors need to maintain ventilation; the toilet, washbasin, handles and other parts need to be disinfected once every two hours; floor drains are flushed with disinfectant water every day.

 

      The Kaifeng Museum’s creative derivatives are classified into nine categories according to the official website: intangible cultural heritage projects series, stationery items, high imitation class artworks, household items, clothing accessories, electronics, Liu Xian printmaking series, teaware, and children’s products. According to the assistant director of Kaifeng Museum, the creative development of Kaifeng Museum mainly focuses on making original products around the internal characteristics of the museum to avoid homogenization, and it has also been continuously exploring the possibility of combining consumer products with the exhibits in the museum.


Jinsha Site Museum

      The Jinsha Site Museum, located in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, is a thematic museum built on the site of the Jinsha Site, a national key cultural relics protection unit, a national archaeological site park, a modern garden-style museum, a site museum, and a first-class national museum. Among them, the Jinsha site was accidentally unearthed on February 8, 2001, which not only answered the mystery of the destination of the civilization of Sanxingdui for the world but also found the origin of the city history for Chengdu. Today, the Jinsha and Sanxingdui civilizations, which are in the same lineage, are jointly listed on the Preparatory List of China’s World Cultural Heritage. At the Jinsha site, archaeologists have discovered nearly 10,000 precious artifacts. On April 16, 2007, the Jinsha Site Museum, built on the original site of the site, was opened with the mission of protecting, studying, and displaying Jinsha culture and ancient Shu civilization, while opening a dialogue with the world civilization and living together with Chengdu. Covering an area of about 300,000 square meters, the museum consists of a relic hall where the archaeological site is preserved in its original state, a display hall for the display of fine cultural relics (with a 4D cinema, a souvenir store, a dining bar, etc.), a center for the protection and restoration of cultural relics, a youth education experience area, a culture and art center (including the Jinsha Theater) and a garden area (including the Deer Park).

 

      The Jinsha Site Museum is a second-class national public welfare unit, implementing the financial policy of “two lines of income and expenditure”. The budget for 2021 has been reduced by more than 30% due to almost zero income during the closure of the museum in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, after the pandemic, the Jinsha Site Museum has placed more emphasis on the development and provision of digital products, and currently (October 2021) it has 560,000 followers on Weibo.

      The Jinsha Site Museum was completely closed from January 25, 2020, partially opened from March 17 (reduced open area, shortened opening hours, and restricted flow), and resumed full opening from March 31. During the closure period, the number of visitors is zero, the original exhibition plan is postponed, and the revenue from tickets and creative derivatives is almost zero.

 

      For the Jinsha Site Museum, the most intuitive economic impact of the pandemic is reflected in the steep decline in admission revenue, as well as the corresponding reduction in revenue from creative sales and interpretive services. The Jinsha Site Museum, as a second-class national public welfare unit, has a financial policy of “two lines of income and expenditure”, i.e., the current year’s income is fully paid to the treasury, while operating expenses come from the previous year’s total income + the current year’s financial subsidies. Therefore, in 2020, when the epidemic was at its worst, Jinsha’s operating expenses actually did not decrease, but the decrease in revenue in 2020 resulted in a budget reduction of more than 30% in 2021. The Jinsha Site Museum is also a national archaeological site park, so expense items include permanent venue maintenance costs, temporary exhibition planning and execution costs, property and security costs, staff salaries, park greening, and maintenance costs, earth site protection costs, cultural relic restoration, and conservation costs, digital research and development costs, publicity and promotion expenses, and cultural event planning and execution costs. Following the reduction of the annual budget, we have reduced the number of temporary exhibitions, scaled-down cultural activities, and postponed certain venue and campus maintenance projects, while applying for various special funding subsidies from the government, including national and provincial public service special funds, and special funds for cultural heritage conservation.

       After the pandemic, there were no significant changes to the daily operating policy, which maintained the original price of admission but introduced a real-name reservation system for visitors and a daily limit. The only major change to the operational policy will occur during the Chinese New Year in 2021. As is customary, the museum holds the “Jinsha Sun Festival” during the Spring Festival each year. This event is positioned as a cultural benefit for the public and used to offer half-price discounts and a wide range of cultural offerings, including annual special exhibitions, performances, light displays, and park experiences. However, in 2021, in order to limit the number of visitors, the museum will keep the ticket price unchanged during the “Jinsha Sun Festival” and cancel the performances and park experiences, thus simplifying the event to reduce costs.

       For the Jinsha Site Museum, the biggest impact of the pandemic was a change in visitor habits: after the pandemic, real-name reservations were required and limited daily visits, and a greater emphasis was placed on the development and delivery of digital products.

 

The Jinsha Site Museum 3D cultural relics display also includes an audio explanation of the relics

       Since the opening of the Jinsha Site Museum in 2007, when it already had some on-site digital interactive displays, websites, and other basic content, the Jinsha Site Museum was listed by the National Administration of Cultural Heritage of China as one of the pilot units of the National Smart Museum in 2014 and began the construction of a full range of digitalization and informatization in the areas of business management, display and exhibition, heritage conservation, and public services. By the end of 2019, the museum has built up a basic system framework of a smart museum through a unified top-level design for smart conservation, smart management, and smart services. In terms of heritage conservation, a comprehensive database for the protection of heritage sites and fine artifacts has been established, containing high-precision three-dimensional data of the relics museum, 76 fine artifacts, 360° panoramic data of the entire museum area, 2,976 sets of two-dimensional high-definition images of artifacts in the collection, high-definition aerial photography of the site area and other data collection and processing work. In terms of public services, it introduced an intelligent integration service system. Through the public version, youth version, academic version, English version and other versions of the official website to allow different audiences to easily access a large amount of information about the ancient Shu civilization; intelligent ticket sales and inspection system to achieve the museum’s online reservation of tickets, temperature measurement, identity information reading and ticketing integration during the pandemic, while ensuring the safety of the audience to quickly enter the museum; the introduction of diversified tour guide services, the development of intelligent Jinsha tour guide system, “reproduction of the Jinsha” VR service, “Creative Jinsha” AR, knowledge station, “Archaeological Time Gate” virtual roaming of the sacrificial area, “Jinsha Sacrifice “immersive experience” and other projects, to create a set of online exhibition, virtual tour guide, three-dimensional heritage display, video and live in an integrated Chinese and English cloud viewing platform, digging deeper into the site and exhibits behind the story, for visitors to open a high-quality and easy “cultural journey”. During the pandemic, the museum mainly promoted online digital exhibitions, live broadcasts, and events, integrating previous digital resources and achievements, the website, online exhibitions, lectures and other platform content has been updated. At present, the Jinsha Site Museum’s online platform includes the official website, WeChat official account, Weibo, Jinsha Smart Guide app, online Jinsha AR app, “Jinsha Site Museum Cultural Derivatives” Taobao store, Bilibili, etc.

       Through the integration of online exhibition resources, the Jinsha Site Museum has seen a significant increase in online exhibition visitors, but this relies on planned publicity and promotion, in addition to the official museum publicity, the Jinsha Site Museum during the pandemic and the People’s Daily, China Culture Daily and other official media jointly launched online exhibition viewing, live activities, attracting millions of viewers to participate. Staff at the Jinsha Site Museum said that digital technology conveyed the “voice” and “image” of the museum, allowing visitors to maintain continuous two-way communication and exchange with the museum.

       In the state of the pandemic, the Jinsha Site Museum in addition to the official website to launch a high-definition picture display of high-quality cultural relics, but also produced and put more than 10 exhibitions of 360 ° panoramic display online, some three-dimensional display of cultural relics, the launch of Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, French, German, Spanish and other multilingual guides, the release of various types of cultural relics story video, lecture audio; planning and implementation of more than 30 forms of online live activities. The museum also offers lectures and social education activities in the form of online conferences; and disseminates museum information to audiences through social media such as Weibo, WeChat, and Tiktok. Jinsha hopes to keep visitors informed about the dynamics of the museum in a variety of ways so that they can enjoy the intimate services and cultural enrichment of the museum at home and attract them to the museum after the pandemic.

      For the difficulties of museum digitization, the Jinsha Site Museum staff’s view is that for different periods, different suppliers of the construction of software systems, hardware equipment integration and maintenance is more difficult, more difficult to update and upgrade; technology companies and museums for the understanding of the wisdom of the museum is not the same, it is difficult to achieve the perfect integration of technology and museum; most of the information system belongs to the application of special funds for one-time construction, follow-up maintenance and upgrade funds can not be guaranteed; lack of information technology professionals, due to the limitations of the museum conditions, not only difficult to recruit information technology professionals, and in recent years there has been a large number of brain drain.

 

       The Jinsha Site Museum has authorized Taobao store “Jinsha Site Museum Creative Derivatives”, a total of 53 products on the shelves, divided into four categories of accessories, ornaments, creative stationery, and household items. Relying on the unique and mysterious Jinsha cultural relic resources and the splendid ancient Shu civilization, the cultural relic elements such as gold, jade, bronze, and pottery excavated and collected, their cultural connotations are integrated into modern life through creative design with artistic, practical, cultural and innovative contents that are closely related to the public. Especially, the ornaments, gifts, and business conference products designed with the motif of “The Sun and Immortal Birds Gold Ornament” are popular among domestic and foreign tourists for their novel design, exquisite craftsmanship, and unique historical and cultural quality.

The creative derivatives designed and developed by the Jinsha Site Museum have won several awards

The creative derivatives designed and developed by the Jinsha Site Museum have won several awards, including the “2010 Museum Cultural Product Third Prize” and “2010 Museum Cultural Product Excellence Award” issued by the Chinese Museum Society; in 2012, it won the bronze medal in the “National Museum Cultural Product Creative Design Promotion Activity” issued by the China Museum Association and the China Cultural Relics Advisory Center issued by the “National Museum Cultural Product Creative Design Promotion Activities” won the bronze medal, while the China International Tourism Commodity Fair issued by the “2011 China Tourism Commodity Competition Bronze Award”. Gold Award of China Tourism Commodity Competition”; “Gold Award of China Tourism Commodity Competition” in 2015; “Gold Award of Sichuan Region of China Tourism Commodity Competition” in 2016; the 13th China (Yiwu) Cultural In 2019, the “Double Ear Mask Cup” won the Silver Award of the China Special Tourism Commodity Competition and the Gold Award of the Chengdu Gift Tourism Commodity Creative Design Competition; “Wululu” won the Gold Award of the 2019 “Chengdu Gift” Tourism Commodity Competition. “In July 2019, the “Ancient Shu Fish and Bird Art Reverse Umbrella” won the Silver Award in the 2019 Sichuan Tourism Commodity Competition.


Jupiter Museum of Art

      Jupiter Museum of Art (JMA) is a non-profit private art museum, founded by Shenzhen Muya Culture Investment Co. The museum takes international art exhibitions and research as its base, combines academic forums, lectures, public education activities, and collection system construction, promotes the exchange and research of contemporary art from East and West, devotes itself to promoting the international development of Chinese contemporary art, and provides a platform for the public to view and understand art. Jupiter Museum of Art’s aim of the future is to be built into a branded art museum with creation as its goal, history as its mission, and culture as its accumulation. JMA has its academic department, curatorial department, commercial department, brand department, site management department, administrative department, and financial department. The total area of the museum is about 5,800 square meters, with three main exhibition halls and one multi-functional hall, with a floor height of 7.5 meters and a ground load of 2.5 tons per square meter. It also has its parent-child interactive area, reading area, and cafe (relaxation area).

 

      Jupiter Museum of Art opened in December 2019. It was closed from February 28, 2020, to March 31, 2020, due to the pandemic. The original exhibition was postponed during the closure period, and the transportation of exhibits was also delayed during the exhibition set-up process due to the pandemic, resulting in longer-than-expected exhibition execution time and reduced opportunities for museum collaboration. After reopening, the number of visitors was limited to only allowing 25% of the original capacity to access, due to the pandemic prevention regulations. During the pandemic, the museum’s space was once reduced from over 10,000 square meters at the time of opening to over 5,000 square meters due to shrinking admission revenue. The Jupiter Art Museum relied on its own funds for ongoing expenses, of which the primary source of income was admission revenues. Despite the high impact and professionalism of the exhibition scale and content, the number of visitors did not meet expectations due to the pandemic.

      Jupiter Museum of Art itself was accurately positioned and analyzed market trends in place and in a timely manner. As a result, during the pandemic, it also harvested a large number of young fans in 2020 through a series of online activities. In the post-pandemic era, Jupiter Museum of Art’s development strategy is focused on optimizing the content of the space and exploring audience groups.

      Jupiter Art Museum’s current online platforms include its bilingual official website, Weibo, WeChat, Weidian creative derivatives store, RED, Bilibili, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Since March 2021, JMA has launched online artist and artwork explanation and art lectures, such as “Jupiter Classroom”, “Jupiter Wanderings Series”, “Jupiter Online Talks”, etc. During the pandemic, the museum team also worked on the development and use of the online exhibitions, as well as adding technology and digital interactive installations to the offline exhibits. in June 2021, JMA digitized some of the artists’ works and actively participated in digital art activities such as NFT and Antchain.

From the interview with the director of Jupiter Museum of Art: “The main audience of our museum is young people, with a high percentage of female visitors. We were curious for a while why the majority of our visitors were young women, but later we found out that many of them found out about the Jupiter Museum of Art from VWAP and RED, and they discussed our exhibitions on these social media platforms and showed their beautiful photos in the museum. This is the fastest way for young people to get closer to art. For a very young city like Shenzhen, being an art museum means facing the needs of this group and grasping their trends. One day, they will be integrated into the art scene. My biggest wish is to attract young people who drink milk tea and play video games. Of course, it is not easy to do this well, and it is not possible to rely on the so-called IP to drive traffic. Today’s young people have very high requirements for content, and an exhibition with high ticket sales requires very professional work in both content and communication. Whether it is attracting young people or inviting exhibition workers to come back to see the exhibition, I have my own views. After taking many detours, I think that art museums should not fall into certain circles, and should not only serve the industry. Since art museums are public institutions, they are the main body of public art communication, they need to focus on the audiences, to study and guide them. But the guidance we are talking about here is not “preaching”, but rather finding interesting entry points to make them realize that the museum is a place where they can choose to spend their weekends, and that the museum itself should not set up barriers. And to be interesting does not mean to be “unprofessional” or “amateurish.”

      The staff member in charge of new media in the Jupiter Museum of Art’s branding department said, “There was a very interesting thing that happened during the pandemic. There was a loyal JMA audience who offered to make a donation to JMA. There have always been such audiences who watch over JMA and stay with it. It’s heartwarming to see the probity in times of trouble, and we feel it in these tough times.” At the same time, the staff also said that the Jupiter Museum of Art is willing to accept help from all walks of life.


Chuanxi Yiyuan Folklore Museum

       Chuanxi Yiyuan Folklore Museum is located in the suburbs of Chengdu “agricultural science village”, Pi County, Chengdu, Sichuan Province. It is a national agricultural tourism demonstration site, a thematic museum mainly displaying folklore relics of western Sichuan, and a folk (private) history museum with key support from national policy, covers an area of 15 acres. The museum can be divided into the display and exhibition area, collection storage area, cultural relics protection technology area, office area, and public service area. Yiyuan was established in 1993 by Mr. Zhou Yongyi, the director of Sichuan Collectors Association, vice president of Sichuan Root Carving and Stone Association, and the first person of Chinese folk museum. The total area of the museum exhibition hall is about 1200 square meters, the storage area is about 500 square meters, the technical conservation of heritage area is about 300 square meters, the office area is about 300 square meters, and the public service area is about 2500 square meters. There are about 30,000 pieces in the museum’s collection, with many famous treasures and nature’s treasures. There are about 30,000 pieces in the collection, with many masterpieces and treasures of nature. The museum has eleven exhibition areas, including ancient furniture, root carvings, woodwork, porcelain, stones, western Sichuan farming culture, pottery, genealogy of family names, ancient books, red collection, calligraphy, and painting. These include natural golden heather millennium root carvings, Dong Qichang calligraphy, 3,700-year-old Yin Shang oracle bone inscriptions, bronzes, Tang Sancai, porcelain through the ages, and so on.

       Yiyuan Folklore Museum is part of the government’s plan for local agro-tourism and is wholly funded by the government, so it is not under pressure to survive for the time being, and it did not even close for a long time during the pandemic because it had less contact with the outside world. Because of the government’s strong support, the Yiyuan Folklore Museum has not been digitized to meet the needs of the closure crisis. Only a few media have promoted the museum online. And no creative derivatives have been developed.


Audiences’ Perspective

 

       Museums are not a necessity for most people, so, in order to make museums as attractive as possible to the general public and to get the public to spend more on them in order to save museums that cannot survive for economic reasons, there is a need to understand the elements that contemporary audiences value most in museums and the premises for which audiences will spend money in museums. I interviewed five volunteers with varying interests in museums and will try to decipher some suggestions for museum survival from their perspectives.

 

  • Information of the Volunteers
    • Chuying Lin
      Chuying Lin is a sophomore at Mount Holyoke College and one of her future majors is history. She is interested in museums and Hanfu (Chinese costumes) and will follow WeChat official accounts and apps to get information about new exhibitions. Museums are one of the must-see travel destinations, and she will buy creative derivatives on the theme of her favorite exhibitions. She values the museum exhibition theme and the introduction of exhibits such as audio guides the most.
    • Siqi Yang
      Siqi Yang is a senior undergraduate student in the United States, majoring in graphic design and art history. Her own professional needs lead to the need for museum visits (to learn about history, trends, and get inspiration), but after more and more exposure to museums, she developed an interest in museums themselves. After each museum visit, she will definitely go to its store and she will also online-shopping creative derivatives overseas. She consumes creative derivatives only based on her interest. The most important thing is the quality of the exhibits and the design and exquisiteness of the creative derivatives.
    • W
      W is a senior in the History Department of a Canadian university. He goes to museums for research purposes, but he only goes to museums when he travels and has research needs. He values the cost-effectiveness of creative derivatives and thinks shopping online is more cost-effective. The most important thing of museums to him is the restoration and presentation of history and the preservation of the collection.
    • Zhuoqun Liu
      Zhuoqun Liu is a Chinese teacher with a focus on cross-cultural language teaching (teaching in the US, Spain, and cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen in China). He is interested in literature, history, and philosophy. He is very fond of museums and has visited museums all over the country. He keeps up with museum news and museums are one of his must-see destinations. In museums, he will definitely spend money, buying souvenirs or things with practical value, but he is also interested in creative derivatives that can be combined with the museum itself (for example, the creative ice cream that can be eaten while strolling in Shenyang Palace Museum). The most important thing of museums to him is the content and the quality of the content presentation.
    • Mandy
      Mandy was born and raised in Shenzhen and majored in liberal arts in undergraduate and graduate school. Mandy’s interest in visiting museums was influenced by her major, and her habit of visiting museums started in 2011. She visits museums in tourist destinations, pays attention to new exhibitions, and visits museums she has been to for the second time because the exhibits have been significantly updated. She is a fan of museums’ creative derivatives and mostly concerned with the derivatives’ design aesthetics, cost-effectiveness, and practicality. If there is something she likes a lot, she will search to buy it online. The most important thing of museums to her is the overall experience of visiting, such as interactivity, detailed introduction of exhibits, and quantity and quality of exhibits (local characteristics showed by the exhibits and the preciousness of exhibits).

 

  •  Audiences’ Experience
    • Online
      • According to the interviews with the volunteers, they have all experienced the museum’s online activities in one way or another. For example, the museum’s online archive, online live broadcast introducing exhibits, online exhibitions, etc., or they have experienced the museum’s digital achievements through the museum’s online promotion and online creative derivatives sales platform. Volunteers have different opinions about the online experience. Some volunteers believe that online museums make up for their lack of time or space to experience museums in person, and are even more beneficial to those who need museums only for research purposes. However, some volunteers felt that online museums are not as close to the exhibits as offline visits, and are lacking the atmosphere of visiting museums. However, regardless of whether or not they accepted the museums’ “cloud exhibition,” all volunteers claimed that they had been exposed to the museum’s online promotion and had used the museum’s online promotion to determine their interest in a particular museum. Some of the “museum enthusiasts” will constantly follow online platforms to track information about new exhibitions and plan visits for specific new exhibitions. In addition, for more than half of the volunteers, the digitization of museums has made it easier to consume the museum’s creative products, and they even tend to purchase specific products exclusively online.
    • Offline
      • More than half of the volunteers consider local museums as their must-see travel destinations, but due to the limitation of travel frequency in their daily lives, their offline visit frequency is basically no more than six times a year. However, each volunteer has a different focus on the offline museum experience and different spending habits. The only thing in common is that volunteers agree that the quality of the museum exhibits determines their willingness to visit. For some volunteers, how museums present their exhibits also determines their opinion of the museum. For example, the visitor’s interactive experience with the exhibits, the level of detail in the presentation of the exhibits (e.g., exhibit signage, audio tours, human guides, etc.), and the quality of preservation of the exhibits. For the volunteers, their offline experience will also have a direct impact on whether they will buy the creative products. If they have a good enough experience, they will be more interested in buying creative products in the shop of the creative derivatives on their favorite themes or buying them online for cost-effectiveness. There is also a special case where the creative products themselves reflect the museum’s own characteristics and enhance the visitor experience. For example, one volunteer mentioned that the Shenyang Palace Museum has its own creative ice cream, which not only makes the experience better for visitors who visit outdoors in the summer heat, but also combines the characteristics of the city and the exhibits in terms of taste and shape, increasing people’s desire to take photos and upload them to social media and promote the museum. . However, if the offline experience is really not impressive enough, their desire to buy will be directly affected.
  • Audiences’ Most Valued Elements
    • To conclude, what volunteers value most about museums is the content of the museum and the quality of content presentation. In addition to the conservation and sheltering role of the collections, the most important role of museums for citizens is their social educational role. All volunteers said that the presentation of museum exhibits determines whether they are willing to give their time, money, and effort to visit the museum, and they all said that one of the social obligations of museums is to present exhibits to the public in a better format. How to better present the exhibits and make the public feel the charm of the museum is something that all museums need to explore and insist on. More than half of the volunteers said that if museums can guarantee the quality of content presentation, then online museums can be a regular option for them, and they are even happy to pay for it if they cannot experience it offline.

 

  • Consumption of Museums
    • I presupposed two types of museum consumption in the pandemic in the interviews: paying for online museum experiences and buying museum creative derivatives online.
    • Volunteers said they would be willing to pay 70-100% of the offline ticket price for an online experience if it was a case of excellent quality of content presentation. However, in the case of average interactivity, presentation detail, or substandard quality and quantity of exhibits, they may only be willing to pay 20% of the offline ticket price. But in any case, volunteers agree that in extreme cases like the pandemic, they would be happy to pay for a museum’s online content for the purpose of preserving good museum content if it is a museum in need of financial assistance, it just requires the museum to be forthright with its plight and needs.
    • For online purchases of museum creative derivatives, all volunteers have had interest or experience in online purchases. Basically, for all volunteers, their consumption of museum creative products is based on the presentation of the theme of the exhibit by the creative work, their personal interest in the theme, the level of effort, practicality, and aesthetics of the product design. Regarding the online sales of foreign museums’ creative derivatives, half of the volunteers said they had paid attention to or purchased the creative derivatives of foreign museums such as the British Museum on Chinese shopping platforms (these museums have their official online store or substitute products on these online shopping platforms), and one volunteer had the experience of shopping across the border for the creative derivatives of foreign museums. There are also volunteers who have consumed cross-border co-branded derivatives between museums and other fields, such as the co-branding between the Chinese Silk Museum and Hanfu manufacturers.

Conclusion

 

       In response to repeated outbreaks and globalization trends, digitalization has become necessary for almost all industries. For museums, online promotion, exhibitions, and revenue will be necessary items for future development. Digital development should not be limited to the country or region, but museums in different countries can join forces and help each other, share experiences and resources, and create an online integration platform together.

       The vice director of Kaifeng Museum said that the digitization of the museum has many benefits for the museum, both internally and externally.

Internally, digitization facilitates the archiving of museum collections and the “real name authentication” of museum collections. This facilitates the circulation of museum collections between museums. The scanning and modeling of collections can not only record the details of collections in more detail, but also help researchers to conduct research projects online across regions, facilitate social educators to conduct popular science lectures online, and facilitate the construction of online museums for a better user experience online and the production of creative derivatives directly from the scanned models of collections offline. Digitalization of museums can even help expand museum audiences by planning guided tours for visitors online, recording their paths, and using big data to personalize and recommend exhibitions and exhibits that interest them. Or use AR and VR technologies to further upgrade the exhibit viewing experience. For example, the Kaifeng Museum’s digital dynamic Along the River During the Qingming Festival. Or help cross-region and cross-country museums to communicate better and conduct joint exhibitions of multiple museums online, etc.

The pandemic has already indeed accelerated the museums’ digitization.
The “Jian Hua” app is the latest online art intelligent exhibition hall adopted by Phoenix Art Museum, with AI image recognition function and a large number of classic artworks appreciation, helping the audience to understand the works. In addition, the “Smart Frame” technology has been introduced to promote the anti-counterfeit traceability of works in the collection and protect the intellectual property rights of original works.

       In the face of the pandemic, the widespread introduction of “cloud viewing” in museums, albeit as an emergency measure, offers more reasonable imagery of the future shape of museums. In 2020, the Dunhuang Research Institute launched an immersive exhibition, the “Dasheng Dunhuang Art Exhibition,” in which viewers went beyond “browsing” and became participants in the exhibition. They become participants and even protagonists of the exhibition. In Zhao Shengliang’s opinion, this kind of experience-based digital art will be an important way of future exhibitions. New technologies have broadened the boundaries of museums from the “shape” level, making museums embrace new technologies such as cloud computing, AI, VR, etc., from offline to online; on the other hand, new technologies interpret museums in new forms such as film, music, games, animation, literature and even emoji packs. This “IP treasure” influences the spiritual and cultural life of contemporary people. And all these changes need to use product thinking, product capabilities to achieve.

       At the same time, Taobao’s online “cloud sales” of museums’ creations also show that museums can use online to expand their new living space. Data shows, the highest monthly sales record of the National Museum’s creations is 277 pieces. Although it’s not quite a hot seller, the museum’s online sales have pushed the industry to think about the “non-ticket economy” of museums. Currently, the official stores of more than 20 museums, including the Palace Museum, the British Museum, and the Dunhuang Museum, have accumulated more than 10 million fans, more than half of whom are post-90s, on Taobao’s Tmall platform alone.

       In the opinion of Zhao Shengliang, director of the Dunhuang Research Institute, the experimentation with online products has inspired the museum community on how to tell good stories, activate the enduring vitality of cultural relics, and integrate into the development of the times.

It will enable museums to use new technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual roaming at a greater pace, and to integrate online and offline and output more high-quality content with the high-speed rate of transmission brought about by 5G and cloud computing.

       Regarding the areas in which the museum can expand in the future, Ruan Xiaoyi, artistic director and curator of Jiangsu ESPOIR Gallery, also said:

“First of all, we have increased cooperation with our peers, adopting a joint cooperation model of several institutions to run the exhibition, exerting greater synergy and peers working together to overcome the difficulties.” Looking back on these few months, Ruan Xiaoyi said that on the one hand, they increased their online art tours, and on the other hand, he also started to do some art derivatives design, “such as prints, notebooks, bags and other types, hoping to expand the boundaries of art consumer groups, and cultivate more understanding and interest of the market for artists through prices that the general public is happy to accept.”

       In addition to the links between museums and the optimization of museums themselves, artists, curators, galleries, art museums, museums, and audiences, them all, is an ecological chain of the cultural and museum industry, with artists at the forefront of the chain. As art continues to run after a short “respite” from the pandemic, it is especially important to encourage artists to create and persevere.

上·美术馆展厅中,每幅油画都附有一张二维码,扫描之后就跳出一个页面,里面不仅有画作简介,还有这幅画从最初到现在的收藏流转过程,每一次转手,每一家机构出具的证书,都赫然在列。
In the exhibition hall of Shang-Museum, each painting has a QR code attached to it, and after scanning it, a page pops up, which not only contains a brief introduction of the painting, but also the collection process of the painting from the beginning to the present, and the certificates issued by each institution are all listed.

 

      According to Xinxin Xin, a young curator in Nanjing, art exhibitions have “bounced back” after the pandemic.

“With fewer gatherings a while ago, artists were free of social engagements and were able to sink their teeth into painting, with high production of works. “The pandemic has unknowingly reshaped the art ecology, and works by young authors of three to five thousand yuan a piece are very popular in the market because of their good value and low price. “Through this phase of market reshuffling, those works that used to rely on hype and have inflated prices or should-be paid works have been eliminated, the art market has hit bottom and rebuilt, young artists have started to steadily walk into the main scene, and demand for various exhibitions is strong.”

       Nanfang Daily found in research, the audience who have contacted the online exhibition is more willing to visit the museum as if now everyone will do the strategy before traveling, cloud technology can provide more stereoscopic dissemination of the exhibition. “Bring up the interest of the audience in the early stage, and continue to extend the promotion at a later stage, the new technology is just right to play a role in these two links.”

The exhibition did not bring us revenue, but it brought more long-term benefits.

       Chen Lu, public relations director of the M Woods Museum of Art, told the Southern Daily News that the overall number of views on the museum’s WeChat and Weibo reached the level of one million, bringing nearly 10,000 fans to the M Woods Museum. Many netizens left messages in the WeChat official account that they will go to the site to see the exhibition by themselves after the pandemic. Chen Lu admits that the test of how to convert the online museum’s attention into offline revenue is the museum’s innovative operation model. “We need to pay artists and staff, and the gap between the museum’s input and output will continue to widen. A certain amount of good business operation is needed to maintain the balance, but we are still figuring it out what kind of business model is reasonable and effective.”

       Wei Jun, professor of cultural relics and museums at Fudan University, analyzed that some online exhibitions are pre-done stock, although the number is large, the overall depth of content development is not enough. There is no long-term research and accumulation of exhibit content, exhibition themes, including the stories behind the cultural relics. Without finding the right direction of development, audience satisfaction is bound to be greatly reduced.

       Online exhibitions are fundamentally different from offline tours, and rely more on product thinking than on technology.” Li Hang, general manager of Tencent Group’s marketing and public relations department and product leader of “Cloud Tour Dunhuang,” found that compared to offline exhibition viewing, online user time and entrances are very limited, and there must be a valuable product innovation experience, not just a simple online display of exhibits. He suggested that the future of online museums using new technology depends on which user’s tour needs have not been met and what product experience still needs to be improved so that the technology could serve the product itself.

To make a product like “Cloud Museum,” how to improve the interactivity is a key proposition. This is why the same theme may have a huge final user volume difference.

       In recent years, the Chinese government has encouraged state-owned institutions to achieve professional operation in some business areas by purchasing third-party services and other means, while private institutions have the natural advantage of market-oriented operation. The two sides can fully exchange experience in event planning, cultural and creative development, and cooperate in social education and cultural and tourism integration activities. In addition, through joint exhibitions and other means, private institutions can improve their visibility and social influence, fill the gaps in the collection categories and themes of state-owned institutions, and make the display, promotion, and education systems of cultural institutions more enriched. Breaking the barriers of the managing system, supporting the cooperation between the two to build co-museums, and promoting the optimal allocation of resources. At present, some state-owned museums and art galleries objectively have the demand for in situ expansion or new branches, while some private museums and art galleries also have the demand for increased space for display and education. In the specific process, both sides can take the premise of mutual benefit and ensuring public welfare to jointly build and run museums and art museums to create joint-main-body museums. In the construction process, the innovative participation of some non-public capital is allowed to promote optimal allocation of resources and two-way flow and explore innovative models in cooperation to achieve common development.

       Luo Jing, director of the Department of Museums and Social Heritage of the National Administration of Cultural Heritage, also expressed the need to strengthen international experience sharing, exchange, and cooperation in the field of museums.

In the past, our exhibitions mainly showed the value of our art, science, and history. But in the future, we should reflect more common value of human beings.

       The National Administration of Cultural Heritage and other nine departments jointly issued guidance on promoting the reform and development of museums in enhancing international cooperation, implementing the World Civilization Exhibition Project, through long-term loan exhibitions, exchange exhibitions, multi-location touring exhibitions, and other ways to share the achievements of human civilization development.

       Combining interviews with four museums and five volunteers, for museums still suffering from the pandemic, it is important to make people aware of the plight of museums, use the resources they, the government’s, and other museums already have to digitize as soon as possible, develop creative derivatives, expand the facets involved in museums, and collaborate with other museums and social organizations to expand their influence and visibility and share the proceeds. For museums that are already open offline, the most important thing is to prevent and control the pandemic offline to provide a reassuring environment for visitors. Culture, history, and beauty are precious assets that should be shared by all human beings, and collaboration among museums will be the right trend in the face of the pandemic. As a result of the pandemic, the geographic divide between humans has been widened and people communicate less offline, but this is the time for all industries to break boundaries online. Using social media, e-commerce platforms, and strengthening international cooperation will be the ways out for museums under the pandemic. I believe that China, as a country that has already allowed museums to swim against the tide of the pandemic and has shown interest in international cooperation among museums, will gladly accept advocacy and various mutually beneficial collaborations from overseas museums. Perhaps museums that are facing a crisis can look to China to discover more ways to support each other internationally in the midst of the pandemic.

Words From The Interviewees

 

During the interviews, I also collected some of the interviewees’ most vivid memories of the pandemic outbreak and some of the things they wished they had said about the program.

 

Kaifeng Museum, Cong Peng, Haitao Zheng: “After the end of the epidemic, on the morning of the first day we opened the museum, without any agreement or notice from our leaders, everyone gathered at the entrance spontaneously. The first audience who came at that time, he had to take his temperature, show his health code and wear a mask before picking up his ticket. This series of processes is something we have never experienced before, but because the museum is finally open, we all are still quite excited in our hearts. Although we didn’t rush up to say anything to this visitor, we all nodded to him to express our welcome.”

 

Zhuoqun Liu: “After the pandemic has relatively recovered a bit, there is a sense of pleasure in returning to a museum that was once very familiar. I was once at the Hunan Provincial Museum in Changsha, and saw a gold crown in the middle of a special exhibition in Afghanistan, which was exhibited in a joint exhibition of overseas museums in Chinese museums. At that time, I felt that it was very similar to the decoration of women’s heads in the traditional Chinese court, but I didn’t study it carefully at that time. It was not until I visited the Liaoning Provincial Museum in Shenyang not long ago that it introduced the crown-making techniques during the nomadic period in China, a technique that spread westward to Central Asian and African countries and eastward to Korea, Korea, Japan and other countries through the Grassland Silk Road at that time. When this was introduced in the Liaoning Provincial Museum, it mentioned a crown in Afghanistan, made with the exact same steeple technique. It was the same gold crown I had seen in the joint exhibition of Afghanistan. I suddenly realized then that a transportation link we had on land hundreds of years ago had connected the museum between two countries hundreds of years later.”

“For museums, if they are really in distress, they can truly find a way to be very sincere and direct about their plight and suggest practical ways for the public to help. For people who really like them, who are passionate about them, and who are capable, this might really be an opportunity for them to make a transition from death to life. For the general public, museums are really great places to make everyone’s own life more qualitative and informative. People can go to museums more often, and their passion for them should not be extinguished by the pandemic. Even people who don’t like museums can try to accept and understand it, and they might become a potential museum lover then.”

 

Chuying Lin: “After the pandemic, I went to the Zhejiang Provincial Museum, with its new building on the canal. My parents were not interested in the museum, so I got up early and rode there by myself, following the navigation. It was already October, at 10 o’clock in the morning, I was standing by the canal, next to the museum building. Looking at that image, there was a sense of the passing of time. That feeling is really difficult to describe in words, just, at that moment, you will have a lot of feelings, it is difficult to pick out one by one to say …… may be a variety of feelings in it. This feeling is quite shocking.”

“For an ordinary person like me, I may not be able to do much to the museums, such as donating money to maintain them, because I don’t have the financial and material resources to do so. But I still hope that these museums can survive this period as much as possible. Then, for the audiences of this project, I hope you will support more and go to the museums more often. My biggest concern is that the museums are closing down and the exhibits in the museums will not be properly preserved, because the artifacts and exhibits are the achievements of human civilization, are very valuable.

 

Siqi Yang: “Some time ago I went to the Guizhou Provincial Museum, in fact, the Guizhou Provincial Museum is more to show the ethnic diversity of Guizhou Province, including its marine fossils, there is not a lot of history-oriented things. It does not have a lot of resources like other nationally known museums, such as the Shaanxi History Museum, and it must cost more than nationally known museums to invest in VR or making documentaries. But it is still very determined to do this kind of cultural heritage and its regional art heritage even at the time of the pandemic, which I find very moving.”

“I want to say to the audience, please go to museums more frequently! Museums are not as boring as you think. And then I also want to say to the directors of museums, cheer up! Please insist on running these museums, because there are more people who like museums than you can imagine.”

 

W: “The physical cultural heritage is priceless.


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[疫情下博物館的危機與轉機Crisis and Opportunities: Museums during COVID-19[蔡翁美慧(Mei-Hui Tsai Ueng)]

[Art-Ba-Ba 中国当代艺术社区](http://www.art-ba-ba.com/main/main.art?threadId=197291&forumId=8)

[卢晓莹. 中国国有博物馆资金来源的研究[D]: [硕士学位论文]. 长春: 吉林大学, 2007.]

Credits
开封市博物馆 郑海涛 彭聪;金沙遗址博物馆 秦晴;木星美术馆 吕红荣 冯苏;川西益园民俗博物馆 周永益;林楚滢;杨思琦;W同学;刘卓群;Mandy; Kaifeng Museum, Haitao Zheng, Cong Peng; Jinsha Site Museum, Qing Qin; Jupiter Museum of Art, Hongrong Lv, Su Feng; Yiyuan Folklore Museum, Yongyi Zhou; Chuying Lin; Siqi Yang; Mr. W; Zhuoqun Liu; Mandy
Jiayao (Lilith) Gao 高嘉遥
Bard College Berlin 24'. Major in Ethics and Politics, Art and Aesthetics;就读于柏林巴德学院,将于2024年毕业,双专业伦理与政治、艺术与美学。 https://www.linkedin.com/in/jiayaogao-20000929/?locale=en_US
Jiayao (Lilith) Gao 高嘉遥

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