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WeChat is Taking Museums to the Cloud

SAN FRANCISCO, May 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Since the outbreak of the pandemic, major museums, galleries and expositions across the United States have been forced to cancel events and close their doors. This has put a lot of pressure on the industry as a whole. Within this environment, WeChat has teamed up with 11 museums in the U.S. to create an innovative "Museum in the Cloud" experience, allowing would-be museum-goers to digitally visit participating museums from their homes.

The partnership is wholeheartedly supported by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).

"We are very happy to support WeChat’s initiative to help digitalize the museum experience, as it also connects to the American Alliance of Museum’s vision of building ‘A world informed and enriched by thriving museums,’" said Arthur Affleck, the Vice President of Development of AAM. "The museum Mini Programs will enable Chinese audiences to tour American museums remotely from across the ocean, and help in bringing the world closer together under this special timing."

These 11 museums are among the first partners to join WeChat’s travel solutions initiative – WeChat go. The partner museums span the East and West Coasts of the U.S. and include the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Autry Museum of American West, Guggenheim, Museum of the City of New York, Brooklyn Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, Walt Disney Family Museum, Telfair Museums, Aquarium of the Pacific and Lowell Observatory. From modern to ancient arts, aquariums to observatories, the participating museums run the gamut of curated collections.

Aimed at Chinese visitors, the Mini Programs being launched by the museums offer free public resources such as guided audio tours, video materials, introductions of pieces in the collections and interactive games. It is hoped that these resources will help Chinese museum-goers better understand the collections and offer them a more engaging experience, while allowing them to strengthen cross-cultural understanding even during social distancing.

MoMA Shows Users the Cream of the Collection

The MoMA Mini Program developed by the New York Museum of Modern Art, offers Chinese language explanations and audio guides for some of the museum’s finest pieces. Anna Temkin, MoMA’s Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, even takes it upon herself to relate precious works such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and Monet’s Water Lillies to digital visitors.

Aside from these more practical functions, the MoMA Mini Program has two other bonus functions – "Find Your Match" and "Rewards". "Find Your Match" was developed taking inspiration from dating software. Works of art pop up and users can swipe left or right depending on whether they like the piece or not.

Screenshots of the MoMA Mini Program
Screenshots of the MoMA Mini Program

Meanwhile, "Awards" encourages user engagement by giving them tasks to complete, through which they can win prizes such as exclusive wallpapers, MoMA postcards and membership draws.

The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco Turns Users into Collectors

In order to offer users a more engaging experience, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco equips three other functions, including introductions of the collections, museum guides and fun, interactive achievements for users to complete. After opening the Mini Program, users are led around the museum on a Private Tour by Dr. Jay Xu, Director and CEO of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. No matter how far users are from the museum geographically, they can feel like they’re right in the museum.

If a certain piece of the collection catches users’ eyes during their tours, they can add it to "My Display Case" and take a brief quiz. If the user answers successufully, they can obtain a "Collection Certification" from the Asian Art Museum and become an "Expert Collector."

Screenshots of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum Mini Program
Screenshots of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum Mini Program

"The world is changing," notes Dr. Xu. "But one constant is the desire for connection. WeChat serves as one of the Asian Art Museum’s most important portals—24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across oceans and continents—for engaging our global communities to 6,000 years of art and culture. WeChat empowers us to creatively embrace change, inspire new audiences with new ideas, and share our most compelling stories from the past to the present, stories that spotlight our common humanity and connect art to life."

The other 9 museum Mini Programs also being launched have incorporated museum introductions and basic visitor information like opening hours, pricing and reminders. The applets will also offer Chinese language explanations of key exhibit pieces and collection files, along with unique photo frames designed exclusively for the various museums. These digital portals will provide Chinese users and tourists real-time services and a rich "Museum in the Cloud" experience.

In addition to these Mini Programs, all-Mandarin arts and cultural platform Move the Mind (MTM) is also unveiling its own Mini Program to provide a one-stop outlet for the Chinese cultural tourist. MTM’s Mini Program will collate key information on arts and cultural institutions, and connect to other museum applets to encourage users to explore deeper and further. Accessible through MTM’s WeChat account, the Mini Program will add value to its readers’ viewing experience, encouraging them to actively engage with global arts and culture.

A Digital Escape to the Museums in the Cloud

Even though museums are temporarily unable to open and public gatherings have been restricted during the pandemic, WeChat is supporting the AAM to help 11 US museums bring a brilliant historical and cultural experience to users by opening the doors to the "Museum in the Cloud". At the same time, it also helps to show other museums and cultural institutions how they can give themselves a "modern makeover" to create a more engaging and personalized experience that attracts new visitors, both digitally and offline.

Interested in collaborating with WeChat go? Send us emails at wechatgo@tencent.com 

Photo – https://photos.prnasia.com/prnh/20200430/2790992-1-a?lang=0
Photo – https://photos.prnasia.com/prnh/20200430/2790992-1-b?lang=0

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Written by Markus Castro

A cat person by day and a writer by night. He loves to travel to his favorite destinations in Southeast Asia.

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