To mark the Immersive Digital Gallery’s second anniversary, the National Museum of Korea (NMK) introduced nine new immersive contents on May 23, including “Endless Mountains and Rivers: A Prosperous World Unfolds in Nature” and “Portraits of the Joseon Dynasty”. Featuring enhanced interactive and participatory elements, these contents are an enjoyable way for visitors to actively and emotionally engage with cultural heritage.
They lead viewers to different parts of the museum, including Immersive Digital Gallery 1, a panoramic space; Immersive Digital Gallery 2, filled with interactive virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and 8K high resolution contents; and the Open Plaza, where an “Immersive Digital Signage” has been installed.
Yi Inmun (1745-post 1824), a court painter who rivalled Kim Hongdo in the late Joseon Dynasty, depicted the ideal world that the Joseon people dreamed of and captured the image of his times in Rivers and Mountains Without End (Gangsan mujindo), a giant painting 8.5 meters long. It has been reproduced under the title “Endless Mountains and Rivers” in contents optimized for Immersive Digital Gallery 1, a space measuring 60 meters wide and 5 meters high.
The immersive content is an eloquent representation of people living peaceful, active lives in an everchanging natural setting. The spatial structure of the painting has been recreated with the foreground serving to tell the story and the background expressing the feel of the original work, while the interactive video on the floor reinforces the feel of complete immersion.
“Portraits of the Joseon Dynasty” is a new interactive immersive presentation on the subject of Joseon portraits, which were painted to truthfully depict a person’s inner character and external appearance on the premise that “even if a single hair is wrong then it is not the same person.” Shown in Digital Immersive Gallery 2, the new content comprises various sections such as “Making My Portrait” and “Portraits in Photos,” featuring an 8K high-resolution media wall that incorporates artificial intelligence; “Spot the Difference,” a game designed to help people intuitively understand the various characteristics of traditional portraits; and “Portraits at a Glance,” a database of 73 major portraits that enables users to explore the structural relations between diverse pieces of knowledge and information.
In particular, “Portraits at a Glance” organically connects the various characteristic elements of Joseon portraits, making a subject that may have seemed difficult more approachable. Clicking on the relevant bits of information, which are organized by type, takes you on a fascinating journey of discovery where one thing leads to another, showing how separate portraits are related. The way they are connected to each other makes them all the more fascinating to look at.
Featured in Immersive Digital Gallery 2, the virtual reality (VR) presentation “Walk Through the Museum Garden” was created to provide a diverse and interesting experience against the backdrop of the museum’s outdoor garden, which is lovely in a different way every season.
Strolling through the garden so vividly recreated with computer graphics that it seems real, visitors come across flowers and animals that appear in the museum’s various works titled Painting of Flowers and Animals and interact with them. The narration, done voluntarily by the famous actor Cha Tae-Hyun, makes the whole experience more enjoyable.
Another interesting presentation is “Bringing Old Paintings to Life: Garden Walk” where museum visitors can sit down in one of the rest spots in Immersive Digital Gallery 2 and use their phone to access the augmented reality contents. They can color the animals in old paintings that have faded over time and bring them into real space and even stroke them. On the wall that takes its decorative motifs from Korean traditional houses (hanok) and bamboo screens, and even in the small garden where light comes in everywhere through the large window, the flowers from the old paintings bloom and ducks and sparrows fly about.
Installed in the Open Plaza, a major space that anyone visiting the museum passes through, is an electronic billboard where large numbers of people can gather to enjoy four new immersive presentations.
“Paintings of the Past Come to Life” is an augmented reality presentation where the tigers, cats, dogs, and chicks from old paintings in the museum’s collection seem to live and move.
“Moving Letters: Joseon Movable Type” is interactive content based on Joseon Dynasty type preserved at the museum that gives visitors the opportunity to explore the meaning of type through private and public means of communication.
In addition, “Angbu-ilgu: Sundial from the Joseon Dynasty” named after an old Joseon sundial, visualizes in real time information regarding temperature, the weather, time, seasonal divisions, and fine dust levels.
“Time Shines with Every Color” visualizes the colors, shapes, materials and other features of items from the museum collection, symbolically expressing the expanding and ever changing value of museums and the objects they house.
It is anticipated that the new experience of emotive communication and empathy that immersive contents can give will open up a wider and more comfortable path to many people as they learn about the museum and Korea’s cultural heritage