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Culture as a commodity

Updated: 2016-09-24 07:42
By Deng Zhangyu (China Daily)

Culture as a commodity

A fashion show held in Suzhou Museum displays the museum collaboration with chic brands on e-commerce platform T-mall.com. Calligraphy and landscape paintings were designed into modern chic. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Freedom to innovate

In March, regulatory shackles that had kept state-owned museums from engaging in commercial activities were removed, and they are now encouraged to work with the tourism and cultural and design industries to make and sell artistic items. A plethora of State Council and Ministry of Culture regulations have been promulgated this year to give support to this push, and cultural institutions have been swift in taking advantage of them.

In June a series of animations exquisitely painted in a traditional style made a big splash on social network platforms. What is so eye-catching about them is that they depict emperors' concubines who are switched onto the 21st century. In one short animation, a concubine wears a virtual reality headset to chat with the emperor, in another she chats with friends through social networking, and in another she idly plays games on a smartphone. The animation series with a punch had the full blessing of the Palace Museum in Beijing, and private business was brought into the act, too, the internet giant Tencent putting out a call for young people to design emoticons and games based on the Palace Museum's treasures.

Before this collaboration with Tencent the museum had built up a reputation for itself in developing funny and attractive museum products and apps based on its collection.

The designer Fang Yimin, who has designed jewelry for the Palace Museum, says it is not as though the young do not appreciate traditional culture and museums. However, the institutions need to intrigue them in a way that will be readily acceptable to them, she says. The Palace Museum sets an example in appealing to the young in terms of both products and promotions, Fang says.

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