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Bringing new life to the afterlife

October 08, 2017

Re-enacting relics

Re-enacting relics:  Modern technologies like holograms are used to display artefacts in the Eternal Life - Exploring Ancient Egypt exhibition at the Science Museum.

Meticulous mission

Meticulous mission:  Science Museum Curator (Exhibit) Paulina Chan says it took a year and much hard work for her team to put the exhibition together.

Thorough inspection

Thorough inspection:  Science Museum Technical Officer (Mechanical Engineering) Chan Kim-fung does daily temperature and humidity checks to ensure the good condition of the exhibits.

Dazzling display

Dazzling display:  Science Museum Technical Officer (Computer & Electronics) Leung Yat-fai says the museum bought six transparent OLED televisions to show the artefacts through colourful graphics and text.

Like many people around the world, Hongkongers have long been fascinated by Egyptology.

 

The Science Museum has worked hard to upgrade old technologies and incorporate new ones to host the most enthralling exhibition of ancient Egyptian artefacts ever seen in Hong Kong.

 

More than 760,000 people have visited the Eternal Life - Exploring Ancient Egypt exhibition at the Science Museum since it opened on June 2.

 

The average daily attendance of more than 8,000 visitors has broken the museum's record for a thematic exhibition.

 

Controlled environment

Science Museum Curator (Exhibit) Paulina Chan said the museum's staff have worked hard to put on the show of ancient artefacts by using modern technology.

 

"We co-organised the exhibition with the British Museum. We had to meet their requirements on the environmental conditions in the exhibition hall, the design of the venue, and the display of the artefacts.

 

"We conducted several tests to ensure we meet their requirements, and we made use of new technology to make the exhibition more attractive."

 

It took Ms Chan and her team a year to put the exhibition together, and the first challenge they faced was to find suitable showcases.

 

"The mummies are large. We have to show each mummy and the top and bottom of its sarcophagus in the same showcase, so we had to order several large showcases from overseas."

 

The exhibition features six mummies and over 200 invaluable artefacts. With so many precious relics to display, showcases had to be borrowed from other museums.

 

Airtight precision

Science Museum Technical Officer (Mechanical Engineering) Chan Kim-fung checked the showcases before the artefacts arrived in Hong Kong, and found several needed repair.

 

"The British Museum had strict requirements on the temperature and humidity inside each showcase. If there were any gaps between the glass panels of the showcase it would be difficult to control the humidity inside, so we had to repair them one by one and reinstall the glass.

 

"I remember our curator tried to insert a sheet of A4 paper into the showcases to test them. She could not get the paper through after our repair work.

 

"A sensor system was set up to monitor the temperature and humidity inside the showcase for a week. I was relieved when everything met the requirements."

 

Mr Chan's team also monitors the exhibition hall's temperature and humidity. He checks the readings each morning to ensure the exhibition hall is at the right temperature to protect the exhibits.

 

"When more visitors come into the hall, the humidity and temperature both rise. My job is to keep the temperature stable.

 

"The Science Museum is an old building. It was built over 20 years ago. We were worried the air-conditioning system was not good enough to meet the British Museum's requirement, so we renewed the system and conducted measurements. It was like converting an old car into a Formula 1 racing car."

 

Innovative ideas

The Science Museum staff designed and developed a multimedia programme and a series of interactive exhibits that use modern technologies like 3D projection mapping, virtual reality and holograms to examine the artefacts and show the technological development of ancient Egypt.

 

Science Museum Technical Officer (Computer & Electronics) Leung Yat-fai said the museum bought six transparent OLED televisions to show the artefacts through colourful graphics and text.

 

"This is new. You cannot find it in other museums in Hong Kong.

 

"We had to find good positions for the transparent TVs to make them eye-catching, while not blocking the exhibits.

 

"We also had to hide their electric cables and make the TVs stable and difficult to tamper with."

 

To create a mysterious atmosphere the design team put a lot of effort into lighting, text processing and venue design.

 

Science Museum Senior Designer Candy Choi said: "We put a lot of effort into the text that introduces the exhibits. It took us several months to design. We tried different font sizes and text locations to ensure visitors feel comfortable while reading the text."

 

The exhibition, part of the celebratory activities for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's 20th anniversary, will run until October 18.



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