W3C

Chinese Museums meet to talk about making the Web a better place for Museums

Beijing Association for Science and Technology hosted a meetup event to talk about merging of Web and the museums on January 7, 2018 in Beijing. About 30 representatives from top Chinese museums, public agencies, research institutes and other interested organizations attended. See detailed attendee list at the end of this blog.

W3C China Host staff were invited to give presentations about Web and standards work of W3C. The 2017 TPAC breakout session on Art and Culture on the Web as well as the Art&Culture Community Group discussion were introduced to the audience. In the discussion session the follow info was summarized.

  1. General background:

There are about 108 million movable historical relics and 800 thousands immovable historical relics in different museums/institutes in China. It is a very challenging work to digitize, archive and present them online. The 13th Five-Year Program supported by Ministry of Science and Technology has a national project on standards for Digital protection for cultural relics, research topics including standard framework, metadata, movable cultural relics digitization and immovable cultural relics digitization. This project was finished last month and 102 standards have been developed. These standards set up a basic support for museum content and the method to digitize it. However, there is no standard on how the museum content can be presented online. Many museums have started their own efforts trying to present their content online, but the quality varies. And there is hardly a way that the content can be linked with each other. So, there is a real need for standards that can help to present the museum content on the Web as well as make the content interoperable.

  1. Point of Views from attendees
  • The decentralization of Web should be a big inspiration for museums while we are thinking about the next generation of museums. If museums could provide standard online content for the public, the public will have the right resources to be creative with the exhibits. People can organize their own online exhibitions and share the info with a broader audience. That is a new way to share museum treasure with the world.
  • Digitizing the content/exhibits might be a proper beginning to move the museum content online and while designing it, interoperability should be put into consideration.
  • There is a higher demand on technologies while presenting museum content on the Web. A notable case is the use of 3D technology. How should we describe the resource? How should we present it in the connected cyber space? How should we index or search it? All big questions that need to be answered.
  • Objective description of the resource/content is of vital importance. While developing the standards, subjectivity should be avoided as much as possible.
  • Many modern museums have multi-media content on their website. The media files can be much bigger than usual. Data storage and performance should be considered as well.
  • IP protection is needed in a way of DRM. On the other hand, exploration on monetization of content is important for more sustainable development of moving the museum exhibits online. Search for the right business model!
  • Different behaviors of browsers are a serious problem for online museums. Currently many museums have their own websites, but the content of their websites, e.g. HD and 3D contents, usually differ from regular websites. The browsers do not support these content well yet.
  • Most of the museums do not have a strong technical background or resource, and use cases and requirements might be a easier start to jump in.

The audience reached the consensus that further conversations and meetings were needed to push things forward. W3C China staff will continue to follow the conversation and encourage the local museum community to join the global efforts to make the Web a better place for the art and cultural heritage of human kind.

See more info about the Topic of Museums and Web on our Wiki page.

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