IJC MUSEUM is a 3D virtual museum created "in the cloud" that is accessible anywhere in the world to allow “firsthand” art experience. Works by leading artists representing Japan’s contemporary art scene — such as Yayoi Kusama, Tabaimo, and Hisashi Tenmyouya — include large sculptures and dismantled installations no longer on display in the real world and difficult to reproduce. Using state-of-the-art 3D scanning technology and super high-resolution texture photography, the artworks are digitally archived and reconstructed in an online exhibition space made possible by WebGL 3D CG technology. Anyone can move around freely inside the museum and see artworks from all angles in a 360-degree panorama.
The project began with an architect’s design for a real museum. Creating a “3D museum in the cloud” involved actual building engineering in full scale and texture, capturing the functionality of exhibition spaces.
To reproduce artwork by seven leading Japanese artists in 3D virtual space, sculptures were digitalized using a 3D scanner, enhanced with super high-precision texture data captured through high-resolution photography. 2D artworks can be magnified, allowing visitors to view greater detail than with human vision. The virtual museum shows movies of the artists at work or speaking about their work, so visitors can experience art appreciation only available with digitalized exhibition.
WebGL enables overwhelming 3D reproduction. Visitors can move freely inside the museum and see artworks in 360-degree panorama, just like being there. Photography can be prohibited in most museums in Japan, but here, visitors can freely take photographs of any work or post them on social networks.
Indication of how successful the outcome was in the market:
Our project “innovation of the art experience” has attracted worldwide attention, and in the 10-day period after the launch, IJC MUSEUM was featured in more than 600 articles in 60 countries, and shared in 5000 posts on social networks. Online, there were more than 10 million “imps”, making it one of the most popular museums in Japan.
Japan Tourism Agency announced that the number of incoming visitors to Japan in the month of February 2016 reached 1,891,400, showing a year-on-year increase of 36.4%. At this very moment, many international tourists are visiting art museums in Japan.
According to a questionnaire survey of travelers planning to visit Europe and the US, 80% answered that there was “not enough information on what they can experience in Japan”, and that they were “concerned about the Japanese language” as reasons for not choosing Japan as their destination. However, once they learned more about cultural experiences in Japan, 80% showed strong interest in visiting Japan.
For this reason, we chose art as our core strategy to attract interest among the target travelers, because art is an essential aspect of original Japanese culture that can be introduced widely to the world without the use of language. As a means to approach our target travelers, we created a multi-platform 3D virtual art museum with content (WebGL) that is accessible anywhere, anytime, regardless of the use of PC or mobile device.