Palace Museum unveils multilingual website and digital platform for ancient scripts
The Digital Cultural and Tourism Development Forum of the 2023 China Internet Civilization Conference opened in the city of Xiamen, in the southeastern province of Fujian, on July 19, 2023. At the forum, the Palace Museum launched a multilingual website and a digital platform for ancient scripts.
The event was attended by Wang Xudong, a member of the Party Leadership Group of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China and director of the Palace Museum; Gao Anming, vice president and editor-in-chief of China International Communications Group (CICG); Tian Lixin, director-general of the Department of Language Information Management under the Ministry of Education of China; Wang Yongjian, a first-level inspector from the International Exchange and Cooperation Bureau (Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Affairs Office) of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China; Zhou Junsheng, deputy director-general of the Science and Technology Education Department of the National Cultural Heritage Administration of China; and Zhu Hongwen, deputy director of the Palace Museum.
Palace Museum launches multilingual website in five languages
In 2021, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping highlighted the importance of promoting Chinese culture globally at the 30th group study session of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. He stressed the importance of harnessing the influence of culture to effectively convey and promote cultural elements that embody the distinctive characteristics, spirit, and wisdom of China to a global audience. The 20th CPC National Congress also stressed the significance of accelerating the development of China’s discourse and narrative systems, strengthening international communication capabilities and better presenting Chinese culture to the world.
Aligned with these principles, the Palace Museum started to develop a multilingual website in 2022, with the aim of establishing a platform that proficiently disseminates Chinese narratives and perspectives, presents a China that is credible, appealing and respectable, and introduces Chinese culture to the rest of the world.
As a UNESCO World Heritage site, a globally renowned museum and a top tourist destination, the Palace Museum is a paramount symbol of traditional Chinese culture, and a gateway into China for the world. Since its launch in 2015, the English website of the museum has attracted visitors from over 200 countries and regions. The new multilingual website will provide convenient services to a wide range of language communities across the globe, thus significantly expanding the global reach of China’s rich traditional culture.
Leveraging the expertise of the CICG Academy of Translation and Interpretation, the Palace Museum has upgraded its English website to a multilingual one, catering to people speaking English, French, Russian, Japanese, and Spanish. The website features tailored content for each language group.
As part of this process, the Palace Museum extensively studied other renowned museums and their websites in various languages. The goal was to understand how people in different language communities use websites and what kind of content they prefer. Based on the findings, the museum designed its multilingual website to ensure a more user-friendly experience. Furthermore, it integrated the multilingual website with its “Digital Cultural Relics Library.” This interconnectivity of digital resources lays a solid foundation for the future development of additional digital functionalities of the website.
The Palace Museum’s multilingual website strives to offer a user-friendly international platform that highlights the modern civilization of the Chinese nation for overseas audiences. It aims to present information in a clear and concise manner, ensuring a comprehensive showcase of Chinese cultural heritage. The homepage features four main sections: visit, explore, collection, and what’s on. These sections include visitor services, information inquiries, panoramic tours, online exhibitions, collection appreciation, culture column, and news of the Palace Museum. The website is accessible on computers and mobile devices, catering to diverse needs and preferences of overseas audiences.
Digital platform unveils over 300 HD images of oracle bone inscriptions
In 2019, General Secretary Xi Jinping conveyed his congratulations on the 120th anniversary of the unearthing of oracle bone inscriptions, recognizing their groundbreaking, profound impact on Chinese civilization and even global civilization. He emphasized that oracle bone inscriptions, being the earliest fully-developed writing system found in China, serve as the foundation of Chinese characters and the essence of traditional Chinese culture. He further stressed the importance of preserving these valuable inscriptions. In 2022, during his inspection of the Yin Ruins in Anyang City, Henan Province in central China, General Secretary Xi Jinping once again emphasized the inseparable link between the formation and development of the Chinese nation and the Chinese written language.
The Palace Museum houses an extensive collection of ancient scripts, including oracle bone inscriptions, bronze inscriptions, pottery inscriptions, stone drum inscriptions, and seal inscriptions. Among these is an impressive trove of 21,395 oracle bones from the Yin Ruins, ranking the third largest in the world. Throughout history, many distinguished experts and scholars have worked at the Palace Museum, including Ma Heng, Tang Lan, and Luo Fuyi. These individuals made great contributions to the study of ancient scripts. In 2020, the Palace Museum became one of the first institutes to be selected for the “Project of Ancient Scripts and Inheritance and Development of Chinese Civilization” (hereafter referred to as the Ancient Scripts Project).
The Palace Museum’s digital platform for ancient scripts is part of the Ancient Scripts Project. Launched in 2021, the primary objective of this initiative is to establish a data platform specifically dedicated to the museum’s collection of ancient scripts. This platform plays a crucial role in the preservation and scholarly exploration of various forms of ancient writings, including oracle bone inscriptions. It is an open big data platform that supports research on ancient writings and facilitates cultural exchange.
The digital platform will release more than 300 images of oracle bones and their rubbings to the public. These materials are part of a major achievement of the Ancient Scripts Project — the volumes on the collections of Ma Heng and Xie Boshu in the Oracle Bone Inscriptions from the Ruins of Yin in the Palace Museum. Looking ahead, as digitization efforts continue, the platform will publish more extensive and diverse digital resources of ancient scripts in the future. This endeavor aims to provide publicly-accessible resources, enhance the efficiency of scientific research on ancient characters, and facilitate the application of information technology in paleography. In doing so, the Palace Museum is moving closer toward its goal of safety, vitality, digital development, and academic prestige.
Digital technology bridges the past and present, and the internet helps build a global community. The Palace Museum will continue its mission to promote the rich traditional Chinese culture. Harnessing state-of-the-art digital technologies, this initiative aims to showcase to the world an array of exceptional cultural heritage that exudes unmistakable Chinese characteristics. By capturing the essence of the Chinese ethos and wisdom, it revitalizes ancient cultural heritage, imbuing it with renewed vitality in the modern era.