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Palace Museum puzzle book challenges lovers of history

2018-11-21 07:12:41 Global Times

Museums are great places to learn more about history and art, but walking around quiet exhibits and reading explanations can sometimes become boring chores, even for those who are interested in art or history. The Palace Museum in Beijing, one of the most famous museums in the world, is trying to change this by making learning about history and art a more interactive experience instead of a passive one.

On Wednesday, the Palace Museum announced that presales will start in the beginning of December for its very first interactive game book, which will go on sale in China in January 2019, in the hopes of engaging the intellect of museum visitors and entice them to more actively learn about Chinese history and art.

The Chinese-language Enigma Palace, which includes more than 30 puzzles, tests readers knowledge about the history and culture of the Forbidden City, where the Palace Museum is housed, and its vast imperial collection. By solving the puzzles in the book and using a smart phone app, readers are led to a "treasure" hidden within the book's pages.

The puzzles in the book are presented within the framework of a fictional story that starts in 1766, during the reign of the Qing Dynasty's (1644-1911) Qianlong Emperor. After a famous imperial painter passes away, he leaves behind a mysterious book filled with complicated puzzles that hint at a hidden treasure within the Forbidden City. After the book goes missing, rumors about the treasure spread.

Eventually, the book is rediscovered by another artist in the Forbidden City, Zhou Ben, who becomes determined to discover the treasure for himself.

"The most creative part of this book is how it combines online games and the experience of reading an ancient Chinese book," Wang Zhiwei, the book's designer, said at the press conference. "There are 30 interlocking riddles and players take on the role of protagonist by solving them and determining the future fate of the main character online through an app on their phones."

According to the book's designers, readers will uncover a series of scenarios in some hidden chapters along the way which will provide unexpected adventures.

The book comes with 18 accessories, including a traditional Chinese brush, bookmark, gold letterhead and a picture of the Forbidden City during the Qianlong period.

Funding for the book was raised through crowdfunding on Chinese platform Modian. The idea was a hit with users as the project managed to raise more than 2 million yuan ($288,000) within its first 24 hours.

Three other books were also revealed at the press event, covering the history of China's examination system for officials, traditional marriage ceremonies and Chinese festivals.

"We combine high-tech with art to provide a window for readers that reveals all aspects of our traditional culture," Shan Jixiang, the director of the Palace Museum, said.

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