Although Taiwan's pandemic alert level is rising, and gatherings have been restricted, the national treasures of Taiwan are still available at your fingertips. Following the success of last year's "The Museum Opens Up" virtual event, the Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures (ASCDC) and the Chinese Association of Museums are teaming up again for this year's International Museum Day (May 18), calling on even more collecting institutions across Taiwan to jointly launch the "Treasure Hunt Challenge" special event.
22 museums, art galleries, and research institutions – including within Academia Sinica – are utilizing the Open Museum website to build 18 online exhibits and contribute over 17,400 newly added collection items, all open to the public. ASCDC is also officially launching the Open Museum Plaza website, breaking down the boundaries of exclusivity to allow the public to freely collect, curate, and construct their own digital museums.
According to James C. Liao, President of Academia Sinica, in the current pandemic, new presentation and participation methods have diverged greatly from tradition. The Open Museum utilizes digital technology to collect and convert research materials and, through interdisciplinary multimedia, is able to shift back and forth between real and virtual. "Using our collaborative experiences between Academia Sinica's institutes as a starting point, we hope to expand cooperation with external organizations, thereby strengthening and complementing models of presentation and participation, not limited by time or space."
Collecting Institutions Collaborate on 18 Online Exhibits
This year's online exhibits cover diverse topics, spanning ecology, art, history, and even hot social issues. Expect to be amazed: from oracle bone inscriptions to fauna landscapes depicted on cultural artifacts, to the visualization of seeds through electron microscopes and 3D modeling; from the brilliance of early movie camera technology to the artistic journeys of painter Chang Dai-chien, composer Hsiao Tyzen, and director Li Hsing; from famous regional Cochin ware pottery to local museum culture, to works inspired by historical sites of injustice from the White Terror period. The topic on everyone’s mind, the pandemic, is also on display, from Taiwan's "new normal" to the culture of disease in other countries; from toilet paper panics to new mask fashions; from doomsayers and conspiracy theories to the power of religion – explore our new "pandemic world."
Some of the hottest new exhibits include: "The King's Menagerie: Animals in Oracle Bone Inscriptions" by the Academia Sinica Museum of the Institute of History and Philology, "Yilan Style – Yilan Jin Mission" by the Lanyang Museum, "Architectural Theater Story Time with Temple Figurines" by the Chiayi Municipal Museum, "Beautiful Scene – Chang Ke-chi 70-year-old Elaborate Bird-and-Flower Exhibition" by National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, "Buddhist Maritime Silk Road – New Media Art Exhibition" by Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum, and "The Earthly Pond – Artworks of Lotus by Chang Dai-chien and Other Artists" jointly held by the National Museum of History and Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum. The original physical exhibits were suspended due to the rise in domestic outbreaks, but they are now all available online through the "Treasure Hunt Challenge" event webpage, publicly accessible from the comfort of everyone's homes.
Since the Open Museum launched at the end of 2018, it has continuously adapted to the diverse types of data and narrative environments required by its cooperating institutions, seeking new progress in the expansion and strengthening of digital display and curation functions, including the addition of timelines, maps, and other data visualization tools. This year, the Open Museum has worked with the Academia Sinica Biodiversity Research Center to develop the "Footprints" interactive map tool, which provides a new method of presenting large quantities of image data that can be used to trace the distribution of plants and botanic fieldwork across world maps. "The King's Menagerie: Animals in Oracle Bone Inscriptions" exhibit, created by the Academia Sinica Museum of the Institute of History and Philology, also utilizes the Open Museum’s newly introduced "image comparison" function, which enables users to drag an icon between images to easily examine original oracle bone specimens and compare their carved inscriptions in detail.
Hsiao Tsung-huang, Deputy Minister of Culture and Chairman of the Chinese Association of Museums, comments that since the theme of this year's International Museum Day is "Recover and Reimagine," he hopes that the digital transformation of Taiwan's museums can be advanced with the help of the digital expertise of Academia Sinica's Open Museum. The strength of Taiwan's museums will thereby be brought together, allowing presentations of knowledge and culture to no longer be confined to one place or one moment.
17,000 New Collection Entries, Open to All
Aside from digital curation and research showcase, the Open Museum also emphasizes the building of "collections," striving to assemble digital objects that are "visible" (large resolution) and "usable." Through the "Treasure Hunt Challenge" event, the Open Museum has added over 17,400 new collection objects, many under Creative Commons License. Among these, over 10,000 entries were contributed by the Insect Collection of Taiwan's Forestry Research Institute, largely consisting of moth, bee, and dragonfly specimens. About 400 entries were contributed by the Kinmen Historical Folk Museum, National Museum of Taiwan History, National Museum of Prehistory, Kaohsiung Museum of History, National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Taichung Museum of Fiber Arts, New Taipei City Hakka Museum, National Human Rights Museum, and Armed Forces Museum.
In recent years, the Open Museum has begun gathering Taiwan-related open digital content from foreign collecting institutions. Through these international connections, it has assembled a more complete portrait of Taiwanese culture. For this year's event, open datasets of about 7,000 collection objects have been imported from Japan's Integrated Collections Database of the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage (Colbase), the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Walters Art Museum. The Open Museum has currently gathered a total of over 147,000 collection objects.
A New Platform for Digital Public Participation
You can be a curator too! One of the long-term goals of ASCDC's Open Museum is to allow anyone to make their museological dreams come true in the digital world. Therefore, we have now launched the Open Museum Plaza, a platform that allows anyone to upload their personal collections. It also integrates all of the Open Museum's open collections, as well as timelines, maps, and other narrative tools, enabling digital curation.
In the future, ASCDC will also utilize the Open Museum Plaza platform to strengthen collaboration with museums and schools, supplement educational courses, assist local promotional activities, etc. Through collection and curation, the public can participate online in the knowledge production of museums.
Chen Hsi-yuan, Director of ASCDC, thanks the many institutions for answering the call, enabling the 5/18 International Museum Day online event to shape a tradition of worldwide sharing and co-creation. Using the Open Museum as a foundation, we will continue creating interactive virtual museum spaces, facilitating the digital transformation of museums, and promoting equal rights to participation in digital cultural heritage.
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Open Museum – 5/18 International Museum Day Event: Treasure Hunt Challenge
Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures; Chinese Association of Museums
National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall; Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute; National Center for Traditional Arts; Taiwan Music Institute, National Center for Traditional Arts; National Taiwan Museum; National Museum of Taiwan History; National Museum of History; National Museum of Prehistory; National Human Rights Museum; Lanyang Museum; Chiayi Municipal Museum; Kaohsiung Museum of History; Taichung Museum of Fiber Arts; Kinmen Historical Folk Museum; New Taipei City Hakka Museum; Fo Guan Shan Buddha Museum; Armed Forces Museum; Insect Collection of Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan; Taipei National University of the Arts
Academia Sinica: Museum of the Institute of History and Philology, Biodiversity Research Center, Museum of the Institute of Ethnology
Event Homepage: https://openmuseum.tw/museumday2021
Open Museum Plaza: https://plaza.openmuseum.tw
Open Museum: https://openmuseum.tw