IMD Think Piece by Guo Meixia, Deputy Director, Publicity and Education Department, The Palace Museum, Beijing, China

Almost all museums worldwide have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Palace Museum is no exception.  The disruption caused by the pandemic has prompted immediate responses ranging from free online courses to nationwide live broadcasts at the Palace Museum, which was closed from 24 January to 30 April 2020. 

Amid the outbreak, the museum offered online courses for children, who had to remain housebound and take courses over mobile platforms.  Due to the harsh quarantine measures, online courses became a valuable mode of learning.  The courses gained popularity because of their educational yet entertaining content, having been designed after assessing children’s learning habits and interests.  Besides this, the museum did three live broadcasts, providing a new means of access for visitors, on 5 and 6 April after being closed for over 70 days.  It was greatly welcomed by the public, as audiences could appreciate the magnificent palatial architecture whilst obtaining knowledge from interpreters.  The broadcasts had about 430 million views and 240 million shares and comments.

As the pandemic now is under control in China, the museum has been partially reopened to the public, with temporary closures of certain areas and limited visitor capacity.  For the closed areas, the museum has made virtual access available for visitors by means of VR tours, online exhibitions and mobile apps.  There is no doubt that museums will open more widely to the public through these new means of communication.