• Focus
    V&A and The Palace Museum of Beijing
    By Wang Yifan | Updated: 2018-11-29 10:23

    During my visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London founded by Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert in 1851, I not only marveled at the advancement of this leading art and design museum, but also thought of The Palace Museum of Beijing located in the Forbidden City — the palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties. What intrigued me to put these two museums together is that they all related to royalty in the past and have their own cultural creative derivatives. 

    The Palace Museum, founded in 1925, is built based on the palace complex and cultural relics of the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is the largest national museum of ancient culture and art in China. But in recent years, the museum has overturned its previous sober image by launching its cultural creative derivatives to the public that were inspired by the exhibits and architecture in the palace mostly by the historical figures – the emperors. For example, a series of products called “memorials to the throne” center on a word “朕’’--- that is what Chinese emperors call themselves, by extracting some interesting sentences from emperors’ memorials and integrating them into products. Popular products such as “朕實在不知怎么疼你” (I really don’t know how to love you) folding fans, “朕不能看透’’(I can’t see through) eye masks,“朕知道了” (I knew) show the public the cute side of emperors, all of which are a perfect combination of historical and modern elements. By using cultural creativity, the museum brings the distance between historical figures and the general public closer because it allows people to see emperors who were known for rigorousness in the history from a jocular and entertaining perspective for the first time, achieving high sales in China.

    [Picture offered by the author]

    The V&A Museum is the second-largest national museum in the United Kingdom and famous for its abundant and exquisite collections of about 2.3 million pieces, ranging from ancient to modern times, including different cultures from Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa, covering more than 5,000 years of civilization. When the V&A was founded, Prince Albert dedicated it to link traditional culture with contemporary aesthetic orientation and advocated a focus on the museum's meaning to society and life instead of merely emphasizing the preciousness of its exhibits. This unique philosophy leads the museum to seek continuous innovation. So, except for spectacular collections, the V&A is also known as “the most fashionable museum in the world” for its cutting-edge cultural creativity and beautiful art derivatives. Unlike The Palace Museum that puts emperors in the key role of its derivative products, V&A’s products with a connection with the queen do not occupy a big space. Many of its products are inspired by the museum's famous collections. For example, a laser cut Frida deer brooch is inspired by Frida Kahlo's famous painting The Wounded Deer, telling people about the tragic and touching story about this female artist. In addition, the V&A often selects some current hotspots, such as nature or technology as the themes for its temporary exhibitions. It also introduces derivative products from the themes of its temporary exhibitions to sell and exhibit. One of its exhibitions, Fashioned from Nature, reflects nature’s influence on art design, so it integrates elements of animals and plants into its matched derivatives, like the beetle-wing decoration on muslin print.

    [Picture offered by the author]
    [Picture offered by the author]

     

    Certainly, it is not to say that the V&A does not have products concerning the queen. For example, an exquisite decoration depicts the founders of the V&A: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.   

    [Picture offered by the author]

    The similarity between the V&A and The Palace Museum in terms of cultural creative activities is that they both develop products about their past monarchs. According to data, cultural creative derivatives brought about 1 billion yuan ($144 million) in revenue to The Palace Museum in 2016 alone. However, compared with the V&A Museum having a mature cultural creative derivatives system, The Palace Museum still has a lot of space to improve its products whether from the innovativeness of its design or the practicality, popularity, range and diversity. The V&A has a wide range and a developed system of cultural and creative products, including fashion, jewelry, home ware, prints and books, involving multiple objects in our daily life, and the themes and stories of its derivative products are not limited to its exhibits or royalty, but also come from temporary exhibitions and hot topics, whereas there are relatively few themes of cultural creative derivatives made by The Palace Museums at present.

    What is more, the sales channels of the two museums are different owing to different national conditions: In the United Kingdom, offline is the main channel for art derivatives consumption because it is a daily lifestyle for many people to go to museums and buy museums’ derivatives. The V&A’s derivative products always are presented in a modest luxury, which explains that its consumers are mainly those who have needs of art, design and quality life. In China, online shopping is the major trend and even the cultural creative derivatives of museums are no exception. The Palace Museum has established its online store, and most of its consumers come from the domestic market. The situation in China is that even though some people do not go to the museum, they are still willing to pay the bill for folding fans with emperors’ memorials or other derivatives from the museum’s online shop because of the interesting contents and meanings contained by the products.

    Moreover, due to V&A’s richer experience in art design and more developed cultural technology, its products have higher quality, aesthetics and artistry, hence, as The Palace Museum has just started to develop its art derivatives, it still has a lot to learn from the V&A in terms of cultural creativity.

    V&A has been a top museum of art and design for many years, and it has already built its own brand image all over the world. In fact, the V&A has already entered Chinese market in 2016 by establishing the V&A China online shop. In this sense, the cultural creative road of Chinese museums still has a long way to go. China is an ancient civilization with a profound culture, and The Palace Museum is a significant carrier of Chinese culture. As a Chinese citizen, I sincerely hope that The Palace Museum and other Chinese museums can also create their international brand of cultural creative derivatives, and let Chinese culture spread to every corner in this planet. 

    The author is a graduate of Msc Global Economy from University of Glasgow. The author contributed this article to China Watch exclusively. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of China Watch. All rights reserved. Copying or sharing of any content for other than personal use is prohibited without prior written permission.

    During my visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London founded by Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert in 1851, I not only marveled at the advancement of this leading art and design museum, but also thought of The Palace Museum of Beijing located in the Forbidden City — the palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties. What intrigued me to put these two museums together is that they all related to royalty in the past and have their own cultural creative derivatives. 

    The Palace Museum, founded in 1925, is built based on the palace complex and cultural relics of the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is the largest national museum of ancient culture and art in China. But in recent years, the museum has overturned its previous sober image by launching its cultural creative derivatives to the public that were inspired by the exhibits and architecture in the palace mostly by the historical figures – the emperors. For example, a series of products called “memorials to the throne” center on a word “朕’’--- that is what Chinese emperors call themselves, by extracting some interesting sentences from emperors’ memorials and integrating them into products. Popular products such as “朕實在不知怎么疼你” (I really don’t know how to love you) folding fans, “朕不能看透’’(I can’t see through) eye masks,“朕知道了” (I knew) show the public the cute side of emperors, all of which are a perfect combination of historical and modern elements. By using cultural creativity, the museum brings the distance between historical figures and the general public closer because it allows people to see emperors who were known for rigorousness in the history from a jocular and entertaining perspective for the first time, achieving high sales in China.

    [Picture offered by the author]

    The V&A Museum is the second-largest national museum in the United Kingdom and famous for its abundant and exquisite collections of about 2.3 million pieces, ranging from ancient to modern times, including different cultures from Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa, covering more than 5,000 years of civilization. When the V&A was founded, Prince Albert dedicated it to link traditional culture with contemporary aesthetic orientation and advocated a focus on the museum's meaning to society and life instead of merely emphasizing the preciousness of its exhibits. This unique philosophy leads the museum to seek continuous innovation. So, except for spectacular collections, the V&A is also known as “the most fashionable museum in the world” for its cutting-edge cultural creativity and beautiful art derivatives. Unlike The Palace Museum that puts emperors in the key role of its derivative products, V&A’s products with a connection with the queen do not occupy a big space. Many of its products are inspired by the museum's famous collections. For example, a laser cut Frida deer brooch is inspired by Frida Kahlo's famous painting The Wounded Deer, telling people about the tragic and touching story about this female artist. In addition, the V&A often selects some current hotspots, such as nature or technology as the themes for its temporary exhibitions. It also introduces derivative products from the themes of its temporary exhibitions to sell and exhibit. One of its exhibitions, Fashioned from Nature, reflects nature’s influence on art design, so it integrates elements of animals and plants into its matched derivatives, like the beetle-wing decoration on muslin print.

    [Picture offered by the author]
    [Picture offered by the author]

     

    Certainly, it is not to say that the V&A does not have products concerning the queen. For example, an exquisite decoration depicts the founders of the V&A: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.   

    [Picture offered by the author]

    The similarity between the V&A and The Palace Museum in terms of cultural creative activities is that they both develop products about their past monarchs. According to data, cultural creative derivatives brought about 1 billion yuan ($144 million) in revenue to The Palace Museum in 2016 alone. However, compared with the V&A Museum having a mature cultural creative derivatives system, The Palace Museum still has a lot of space to improve its products whether from the innovativeness of its design or the practicality, popularity, range and diversity. The V&A has a wide range and a developed system of cultural and creative products, including fashion, jewelry, home ware, prints and books, involving multiple objects in our daily life, and the themes and stories of its derivative products are not limited to its exhibits or royalty, but also come from temporary exhibitions and hot topics, whereas there are relatively few themes of cultural creative derivatives made by The Palace Museums at present.

    What is more, the sales channels of the two museums are different owing to different national conditions: In the United Kingdom, offline is the main channel for art derivatives consumption because it is a daily lifestyle for many people to go to museums and buy museums’ derivatives. The V&A’s derivative products always are presented in a modest luxury, which explains that its consumers are mainly those who have needs of art, design and quality life. In China, online shopping is the major trend and even the cultural creative derivatives of museums are no exception. The Palace Museum has established its online store, and most of its consumers come from the domestic market. The situation in China is that even though some people do not go to the museum, they are still willing to pay the bill for folding fans with emperors’ memorials or other derivatives from the museum’s online shop because of the interesting contents and meanings contained by the products.

    Moreover, due to V&A’s richer experience in art design and more developed cultural technology, its products have higher quality, aesthetics and artistry, hence, as The Palace Museum has just started to develop its art derivatives, it still has a lot to learn from the V&A in terms of cultural creativity.

    V&A has been a top museum of art and design for many years, and it has already built its own brand image all over the world. In fact, the V&A has already entered Chinese market in 2016 by establishing the V&A China online shop. In this sense, the cultural creative road of Chinese museums still has a long way to go. China is an ancient civilization with a profound culture, and The Palace Museum is a significant carrier of Chinese culture. As a Chinese citizen, I sincerely hope that The Palace Museum and other Chinese museums can also create their international brand of cultural creative derivatives, and let Chinese culture spread to every corner in this planet. 

    The author is a graduate of Msc Global Economy from University of Glasgow. The author contributed this article to China Watch exclusively. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of China Watch. All rights reserved. Copying or sharing of any content for other than personal use is prohibited without prior written permission.

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