Digital heritage profile inChina’s museums

An evaluation of digital technology adoption in cultural heritage institutions

Authored by: Andrew White , Eugene Ch’ng

The Routledge International Handbook of New Digital Practices in Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums and Heritage Sites

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138581296
eBook ISBN: 9780429506765
Adobe ISBN:


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Discussion about the academic use of digital technologies in cultural heritage institutions was contentious even from the earliest days of their introduction. Arguments that the digital provided the public with a qualitatively enhanced viewing experience were countered by more sceptical voices, which viewed it as remaining superfluous. This chapter begins by revisiting that debate before focusing on the adoption of these technologies in so-called Western and Chinese cultural heritage institutions. This approach is not comparative. It was adopted as an acknowledgement that these technologies were integrated in displays in cultural heritage institutions in North America and Europe long before they were in mainland China. (It should be noted that this gap between Western and Chinese institutions is likely to be rapidly reduced in the next decade; indeed, we can foresee a future in which Chinese cultural heritage institutions are leading in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) enhancement rather than following developments in other parts of the world.) The paper concludes with the discussion of a technology adoption survey that the authors undertook in a number of Chinese national museums and, within the context of the earlier debates, an assessment of the extent to which these qualitatively enhance the public’s engagement with museum collections.

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