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Kaifeng Museum in augmented reality

Kaifeng Museum came up as a rare place of interest that’s free to visit in the historic city full of tourist traps.

“Daddy, why are we going to Kaifeng Museum instead of Millennium City?” Pangzi asked. Apparently he had done some research.

“Because Kaifeng Museum is modern and barely a few years old. Millennium City has been around for at least a thousand years, as the name suggests. Nothing left to see,” I explained.

“Then why not go to the Justice Bao Temple?” he persisted, citing another expensive venue.

“He’s overrated. What you can see there, you can also see at Kaifeng Museum,” I said annoyingly, showing him my own black face.

“How about Dragon Pavilion? Heard it’s home to seven dynasties,” Pangzi went on. Of course I knew about Dragon Pavilion, the priciest attraction of them all.

“You know there are no dragons in this world right? Ancient emperors just liked to call themselves dragons to feel superior,” I reasoned. “Kaifeng Museum is more authentic, with actual historical artefacts used by the royalty among the prized collections.”

Against his wishes, Pangzi found himself in the western district of Kaifeng in Henan, China where the new museum was located.

I was astounded by its huge exterior which resembled a giant Egyptian tomb. Entry was a little complicated though. We couldn’t upload any local document details required at the kiosk. It seemed the museum had not planned for foreigners to visit. Fortunately we had our passports with us which we flashed to get us tickets.

Not too far from the entrance, Pangzi found a counter offering augmented reality glasses.

“Put these on and the museum artefacts jump out alive,” the counter girl enticed.

“I want, I want!” Pangzi exclaimed.

So Pangzi spent the rest of the visit in search of artefacts that offered interactivity.

Apparently he just had to identify them by labels, stare at them, and something would start dancing in his AR glasses.

I asked for him to let me try and experience it for myself, but he was too engrossed.

Out of the eight or nine main galleries at Kaifeng Museum, only half of them contained AR-linked artefacts. And only a few in each gallery were activated. But that was enough to entertain Pangzi. He took it as some kind of treasure hunt.

“Daddy, look! I see bells in front of me. They chime in different tunes when I point my eyes at them! Look!”

You’re the one with the AR glasses. How can I look?

From how it sounded, this appeared to be the future of museum appreciation. I’d not seen anything like this elsewhere.

Soon the clock struck five and we had to exit. Pangzi didn’t quite finish his rounds across the two massive floors of exhibits, and asked to return again.

“Next time I want the AR experience too!”

I forgot to mention that the AR glasses rental cost me a bomb.

So much for saving money.


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