Even if you're not planning a trip to Tiananmen Square, you can still visit the galleries of the National Museum of China, whose huge collection comprises hundreds of thousands of artifacts and artworks, from prehistory to the present. Use Internet Explorer 9 to load up the museum's new Vision Explorer, and then embark on a virtual walk through four galleries, whose walls are mounted with some of the collection's most interesting pieces.
All text and videos are in Chinese, but a "Help" link brings up simple instructions in English. Essentially, you use your mouse or keyboard to navigate the virtual galleries, browsing artworks as you go. In the main gallery, devoted to calligraphy, click on the museum's logo to view a video documentary about the building and its collection. The amber room presents a selection of paintings throughout Chinese history, and the green room with red columns features works celebrating the Chinese Revolution. The lavender room offers a diverse collection of art from 1959, the year the museum was founded.
A map, inset in the corner, helps you navigate each gallery. It shows where images are placed on each wall, and where to find the door to another room. Click directly on an image or on its proxy in the map, and you zoom to a fully magnified view of the artwork, with no loss of detail or quality. The illusion of three-dimensionality is quite good, since your perspective of each artwork varies depending on your angle of view. It depends on a sophisticated implementation of HTML5, including a graphical canvas element that the Vision Explorer rapidly transforms and scales as your viewpoint shifts. Only Internet Explorer 9 has the standards support and horsepower necessary to present this virtual tour with fluidity and grace; all the other browsers we tested provided a less-than-pleasing aesthetic experience.
This story, "Exploring China’s Largest History Museum " was originally published by BrandPost.