On Sept. 8, Ewha Womans University Museum implemented Korea’s first artificial intelligence (AI) human docent. The cutting-edge AI docent-guided tours are now available on the permanent online exhibition Masterpieces from Ewha Womans University Museum.
Established in 1935, Ewha Museum is renowned for owning two National Treasures, 22 state-designated cultural heritage pieces, and 23,000 relics. However, due to COVID-19 travel regulations, numerous domestic and international visitors have been unable to visit the museum in person.
In response to the prolonged pandemic, the museum decided to open a permanent online exhibition where visitors all over the world can enjoy high-resolution images of 150 artifacts. On the official museum website, visitors can check out the online exhibition by clicking on the Masterpieces from Ewha Womans University Museum banner. The link leads to a portal that connects directly to the online exhibition, which is available in Korean and English.
Evolution of online exhibitions
Once they access the online exhibition, visitors have the option to explore and browse artifacts. Clicking on the photos provides a direct AI docent-guided tour. To further build upon the online museum experience, AI human docents explain important information about 21 historical pieces in both Korean and English. Through deep learning, the AI human docent imitates the recorded words of Park Eun-young, the current ambassador of the museum.
There have been both positive and negative reviews on the AI docent-guided tours. While some believe that the AI human docent assists with understanding the history of the pieces more effectively, others believe it sounds strange and dull.
Carla Josefina López Tépox, a freshman in the Division of Communication & Media, shared her opinion on the online exhibition and AI human docent-guided tour after her visit. Although she is personally unfamiliar with the AI human docent, she believes there is still room for improvement.
“I like how the museum found a way to make exhibitions more accessible to people who are either financially or physically unable to visit,” Tépox said. “In the near future, I think it would be better if the visitors could interact with the AI by asking questions about the exhibition piece to enhance their online museum experience.”
Even though the museum lays claim to introducing Korea’s first AI human docent, the implementation process itself was not that difficult. According to Jang Nam-won, the director of Ewha Womans University Museum, the museum signed MOUs with AI research institutions and hosted colloquiums regarding the potential of AI services in domestic and foreign museums to better understand AI.
“Our major issue was finding a platform that could reconnect with visitors who were unable to come due to COVID-19 on a limited budget,” Jang said. “However, once we had decided on developing the AI human docent, we were able to proceed swiftly thanks to the cooperation of research institutions.”
According to Jang, the museum plans to make further improvements on assimilating technology into the museum experience online and offline. The museum aims to expand AI human docent tours so that the exhibition is available in multiple languages, including Mandarin and Japanese. Furthermore, they expect to have real-life AI human docents at the museum as well.
“We believe that Ewha Museum must improve accordingly to live up to the name of Ewha by striving to become a leading, future-oriented museum,” Jang said.