Museums are changing, and today rather than looking, visitors are experiencing. Artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies are, in a sense, recreating history. Ewha Voice made a visit to the National Museum of Korea’s Immersive Digital Gallery with international students in the Ewha Academic Assistance for International Students (EAASIS) mentoring program.
As you enter the National Museum of Korea, QI, an AI-based robot, greets you and can guide you through the museum. QI speaks English, Chinese, and Japanese as well as Korean, so international visitors can also easily check the location and contents of major exhibits in the museum. Following the guidance of QI, visitors were escorted to the Immersive Digital Gallery. It is made up of three parts: Gallery one, Gallery two and Gallery three.
Gallery one showcased traditional Korean culture through its Royal Procession with the People exhibit. Several projectors working in concert created a digital world on the gallery walls. The historical experience is made all the more authentic from the sixty meter wide and five meter high panoramic screen. Men and women in the display are seen marching in clothes that match their status, with Korean traditional festival emblems playing in the background.
“Even though I have read and learned about Korean historical culture, it was still so new and exciting to actually appreciate it through the immersive digital gallery,” Le Thi Thu Thuy, a member of EAASIS, said. “The scenes and music fit together perfectly. I felt as if I was at the royal procession in person.”
The second exhibit of Gallery one, Climbing Mt. Geumgang, showcased the natural beauty of the mountainous Geumgang region, a particularly famous Korean location. It did this by animating landscape paintings from artists in the late Joseon period. It was displayed as if viewers were birds exploring Mt. Geumgang, looking at it up close and from afar as well.
“I found it astounding that they turned still paintings into dynamic scenery,” Shen Chenyu, another member of EAASIS, said. “Thanks to this digital gallery, every time I see a still historical picture or painting, I can imagine how the landscapes and people would move and be like at that period of time.”
Following QI into Gallery two, visitors wear VR equipment and explore the museum’s storage and conservation center. Using VR technology, visitors can check collections in the museum’s storage and repair cultural properties in the conservation science room inspired by traditional Korean architecture.
Along with the VR, Gallery two has another exhibition using brand-new technology: a game. One of the walls of Gallery two have interactive touch screens, with which visitors passing through can play Into the Day of Supreme Peace. The goal of the game is to find a person, among about 2,300people on the screen, doing a certain action given by the game and touching it. Many children were having fun participating in the activity.
Finally, Gallery three allows visitors to go inside the Goguryeo Mural Tombs using a digital screen. It not only shows every corner of the stone chambers but also provides ample information and explanation on the murals and structures.
“I have been to museums very often in China, but it was quite hard to imagine what the relics and drawings mean and I easily forgot about them too,” Shen Chenyu said. “So the digital gallery helped me appreciate Korean culture a lot better.”
With digital technologies playing even more prominent roles in society, it was only a matter of time before technology and history came together. Seemingly, that time is now, giving everyone a chance to relive, rather than passively observe the past.