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National Palace Museum website shows new glamour of Chinese historical relics

The welcome page of the National Palace Museum presents services of 9 languages, Chinese (traditional and simplified), English, Japanese, Korean, Fren...
Chinese historical relic lovers may purchase reproductions or trendy value-added products online.
A special exhibition of Ju Ware (celadon) from the Northern Sung Dynasty (early 12th century) is on display at the NPM currently.

The welcome page of the National Palace Museum presents services of 9 languages, Chinese (traditional and simplified), English, Japanese, Korean, Fren...

Chinese historical relic lovers may purchase reproductions or trendy value-added products online.

A special exhibition of Ju Ware (celadon) from the Northern Sung Dynasty (early 12th century) is on display at the NPM currently.

An electronic music composer Lim Giong chants, in archaic Hoklo (Taiwanese), the classical verse "Letter on Flower's Fragrance" by the Sung Dynasty poet Huang Ting-Jian (1045-1105), complementing Lim's contemporary computer music. This is the image advertisement of the National Palace Museum (NPM). Visit downloads section or simply key in "old is new" at top to view the film if interested.
The combination of nearly 1000-year-old ancient poetry and modern music surprisingly creates a unique harmony. The one and half minute film perfectly introduces the idea "Old is New" that the NPM has dedicated to conveying. In the past year, the NPM endeavored to refresh the folk's out-of-style impression on the gigantic castle lying in the suburbs of Taipei metropolis. The "Old is New" film was one of the examples that succeeds in recreating the old face of the 50-year-old museum as it won the gold medal at American Association of Museums' 2006 Muse Award: Promotional and Marketing.
Following the success of the stunning advertisement, the NPM's renovated website was voted one of the best websites in the poll of Taiwan's governmental cultural and tourism agencies' English-language websites. The honor continued till three days ago when the website won a Gold Prize for "Outstanding Brand of the Year" and Silver Prize for "Precision in Search Marketing of the Year" in the "1st Yahoo! Search Marketing Awards".
Old is New—the transformed museum website
The construction of the website began with the National Digital Archives Program starting in 2002. In 2003, the other two national programs, the National Palace Museum Cultural Artifacts Digital Museum Project and the National Palace Museum Cultural Artifacts E-Learning Project, then accompanied the first Program to start. The NPM website is merely part of the whole digitization projects, yet plays a crucial role in the process.
"The welcome page resembles an entrance to a set of sites, containing information of theme exhibitions, archives, record of the past activities," said the director of NPM Information Management Center Dr. Lin Quo-ping (林國平). "A museum website is traditionally regarded as a bulletin board that announces the latest news, but now it associates with the operation of the museum and plays a role as a service provider." The website is arranged containing functions as a learning center, a library, an e-newsletter and of course the e-shop. The NPM e-learning section details to learners ancient bronze, china and the sustainability of historic relics as a basic understanding of Chinese historical artwork. If visitors ever miss a chance to visit the museum, they can always browse the selection site (enter "collection") to appreciate the antiques of painting, calligraphy, ceramics, bronzes and jades. Browsers may have a close and elaborate look at each of the saved items in enlarged pictures while museum visitors can simply observe the objects from out of the showcases with a certain distance.
If visitors ever miss the chance again for the past displays or want to get a better understanding of the current ones, they may link the theme sites from the collection section that present web pages introducing the present and past exhibitions. "This is the result of ‘modularized' websites, a user-friendly design as well," said Dr. Lin. "To modularize websites means to set up a standard module for each of different exhibitions. A single website consists of one exhibition and is packed with adequate information.
The managing exhibitors of Antiquities Department, Painting and Calligraphy Department, or Books and Documents Department can then upload content themselves via the fixed module. With modularization, these exhibitions automatically go online and offline. The past exhibitions, however, can still be found in the archive. Browsers, therefore, enjoy an efficient review system for all the exhibitions."
The freshly launched exhibition "The Legend of Ju Ware (ceramics)" is one good example. The independent website gives a full introduction of the rare and precious of Ju Ware. Before visiting the museum, visitors may obtain either an initial or in-depth knowledge. The sky-blue glazed ceramics, or celadon, are known for its color and densely spread crackles. To explore the fineness of each Ju Ware piece, browsers can naturally appreciate them by enlarging the pictures, without exception. Since we are always disallowed to touch the real objects in the museum, why not take the chance to have a close look at these treasures on your computer screen?
Reputed as one of the treasure reserves of Chinese historical relics, the NPM is favored worldwide by oriental culture lovers. Thanks to a professional translation group composed of 33 translators from 7 countries, the NPM official website is able to serve with 9 languages—Chinese (traditional and simplified), English, Japanese, Korean, French, German, Spanish and Russian. However, due to the limited resource of other professional foreign languages translators, the NPM website now mainly serves in Chinese and English language, just as the average governmental websites. "There are 10 English-Chinese translators in all. Their western translators are all equipped with academic backgrounds in Chinese art history and cooperate with the NPM since long ago," said the webmaster Huang Jing-Ciu (黃靜萩).
Based on the idea of user-friendliness, the NPM website isn't just dedicated to serving visitors of different languages, but aims to satisfy the needs of different types of users—the general public, students and faculty, researchers, media and business partners. "Different groups of users have different needs. The website contains a great deal of information and knowledge. If we don't classify it and introduce it to the right group of users, they will get lost in the website," said Dr. Lin. "Take student users for example. Why do they log on the NPM website? Doing assignments, obviously. The e-learning section then first pops out at the link reserved for student users." In 2007, the retired, or Taiwan's so-called "silver-haired group", shall be incorporated in one of the categorized users, according to Dr. Lin. "More retired people know how to use a computer now. It's an area worthy of receiving attention," Dr. Lin added.
"In the coming 2007, we plan to modernize the website more," Dr. Lin continued. The modern technology gadgets, such as cell phone, iPods or mp3 players and PDAs, are now widely used, which brings faster communication and accessibility to information. In accord with the convenience, the audio guide will be arranged downloadable to any easy carry electronic equipment. "The Podcast service at the National Museum of History website is the first example," said Dr. Lin. "Users download the audio guide on iTunes and get to listen to it ubiquitously." More, if you now happen to be a fancier of Chinese historical relics, the ringtones and pictures provided from the NPM will soon suit your need.
As an e-commerce teacher in college and the writer of the book "Marketing Information Systems", Dr. Lin came across novel ideas associating the long-history museum to people's daily life. "We will find some distinctive-featured bloggers to host the blog of the NPM. They have to be informative, of course, and good storytellers," he recited. Different from the current Art History Forum focusing on art-related topics, the blog-style one shall better connect the museum and browsers' personal experiences. Dr. Lin then suggested topics as "The NPM and me" or "The first visit to the NPM".
Getty Museum as a model
The researchers' work and computer are combined in the process of museum archive digitization, which is knowledge management itself. "We look forward to shaping the website as a knowledge production line, just as what Getty Museum does," Dr. Lin said. "The production line starts from researchers' academic paper. Some of the content suitable for public display is then produced as storytelling-style audio guide. The audio guide can afterwards be published as educational or for certain purposes."
The Getty Museum, located in LA, is both a research institute and conservation institute. Opened in 1997, it is owned by the J. Paul Getty Trust, one of the wealthiest art institutions in the US.
The NPM Information Management Center, the website's organizer, is transformed from a support department to an active leader. It successfully changes the image of the old museum and can further get budget increase from central government. "The website has to create new needs and maintain the leading position of the organization," said Dr. Lin.
The NPM's proposal "Integration of Marketing and Modern Technology at the National Palace Museum" is chosen by the American Association of Museums among 200 participants. 2007 May in Chicago, the NPM is to display the achievements of the archive digitization.

Updated : 2021-06-25 17:24 GMT+08:00