With travelers unable to visit, China's museums move their exhibitions online

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(CNN) — Chinese travelers can’t visit their country’s museums right now. So the museums are bringing the exhibits to them — virtually.

Museums around the country have been forced to temporarily close their doors due to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

In response, China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA) has asked them to stay active on social media and offer their services digitally.

In a special meeting in January, the government body said they would “encourage cultural heritage museums and institutions around the country to utilize existing digital resources and launch online exhibitions as appropriate, providing the public with safe and convenient online services.”
Beijing Palace Museum

China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration has asked museums across the country, including Beijing’s Palace Museum, to offer digital tours.

NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/AFP via Getty Images

As a result, many museums have opened the doors of their galleries virtually, including Beijing’s world-famous Palace Museum, which sits inside the Forbidden City.

A special team is in charge of coordinating with China’s museums, gathering resources that are already available and developing a one-stop platform.

But 100 online exhibitions and galleries are linked to from the NCHA website — here and here (both in Chinese). These are accessible to all, regardless of location, though only some offer English info.
“It will promote the combination of new technology and inheritance of our country’s cultural heritage and gather resources of the museums through ‘cloud’ displays,” says a statement from the NCHA.

Virtual tours of famous attractions

Beijing Palace Museum

Beijing’s Palace Museum is closed until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.

NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/AFP via Getty Images

With the Forbidden City celebrating its 600th anniversary in 2020, the Palace Museum had planned an impressive line-up of exhibitions for the year. On January 23, museum staff announced that it would be closed until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.

One exhibit focused on how Spring Festival was celebrated in the Forbidden City in ancient China. It can now be found online (in Chinese only).
The museum also offers a virtual tour named The Panoramic Palace Museum, allowing travelers to roam around its complex. This one is worth checking out even if you can’t read Chinese.The button on the top left-hand corner allows users to switch between a sunny blue sky background and a snowy background.

Other institutions have also created virtual tours, allowing visitors to move through their halls and galleries freely.

The public can now tour the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall online.

The public can now tour the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall online.

STR/AFP via Getty Images

For instance, the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall lets online visitors access the museum from the entrance as if they were really there. Users can simply click on the multi-lingual information on the walls or click on the video icon to look at different displays closely.

Learn about Wuhan’s history

Regardless of the outbreak, these new online resources also offer culture seekers an opportunity to experience museums in less-visited cities, including historically rich Wuhan, where the coronavirus broke out.