Tencent, the Dunhuang Academy, and France’s Guimet Museum have announced the launch of the Digital Grotto Project, which is focused on the digital restoration and reproduction of the precious relics from the historic Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes.
The initiative will allow virtual tours of the paintings, sculptures, and scriptures that originated in the Mogao Grottoes and are now preserved in Guimet, with some dating back to hundreds of years before Marco Polo’s Silk Road adventures. Over the next three years, Tencent will facilitate more exhibitions of Dunhuang artifacts in China and abroad. The three parties will also encourage other Chinese and Western cultural institutions to join the initiative.
Tencent will leverage high definition three-dimensional image acquisition and processing, while applying cutting-edge technologies such as VR360 immersive media and artificial intelligence for the digital protection and preservation of cultural relics and historical artifacts. Blockchain technology will also be utilized for the copyright protection of digital artifacts.
The Digital Grotto Project will be part of the Dunhuang E-Tour, a Weixin Mini Program that provides virtual tours of the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes. Since its launch on February 20 last year, Dunhuang E-Tour has attracted 39.88 million users from across the country to digitally explore Dunhuang and its impressive artifacts online.
Dunhuang was a trading crossroads between East and West on the ancient Silk Road, and its art represents a fusion of cultural influences. A Sino-France cultural seminar was held on May 18 to present the digital solution and discuss new methods for the digital protection and promotion of Dunhuang’s cultural relics. The seminar was held in the hope of building bridges between China and France with the help of technology, restoring cultural exchanges blocked by the epidemic, and exploring together the innovation and reinvention of museums in the digital age.
“The art of Dunhuang, which is appreciated around the world, embodies the characteristics of multi-ethnic and multi-regional cultures,” said Zhao Shengliang, the head of the Dunhuang Academy. “Digitalization is an important way to promote Dunhuang culture, and we hope to work more closely with other museums, including the Guimet Museum, to promote the digitization of Dunhuang artifacts and academic exchanges to better promote Dunhuang culture around the world.”
Sophie Macariou, President of the Guimet Museum, also emphasized the importance of the exhibit. “The Dunhuang artifacts in Guimet Museum have significant academic and social value in terms of art and culture,” she said. “We hope that in the epidemic, we can deepen and expand the Dunhuang cultural exchange between France and China with the help of digital bridges, and develop more joint exhibitions of digital artifacts.”
“Through digital scanning and data collection, historical relics can be recreated in new virtual forms,” said Liu Xiaolan, deputy general manager of Tencent’s marketing and public relations department, “This will give traditional culture ‘a new life in the digital world’.”
During the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday in 2021, Tencent launched the “Digital National Treasures in the world” Mini Program with support from the world’s top museums, presenting more than 300 cultural relics for millions of people online. Among them, more than 190 relics from the Guimet Museum attracted more than one million users to visit and explore.