IJC MUSEUM – a virtual museum accessible from anywhere in the world that brings innovation to art appreciation

ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS CO., LTD (President C.E.O.: Osamu Shinobe) announces the launch of a virtual art museum project called IJC MUSEUM at the “IS JAPAN COOL?” website, ANA’s promotional media targeting potential foreign visitors to Japan. The number of overseas visitors to Japan reached 19.73 million in 2015 and more than 20 million foreigners are expected to visit Japan in 2016. In the meantime, art appreciation has become an important facet of sightseeing in Japan. To familiarize foreign visitors with Japan’s fascinating art and bring even more satisfaction to their travels in Japan, the “IS JAPAN COOL?” team decided to launch the IJC MUSEUM project that focuses on art in Japan.

Overwhelming realism that doesn’t exist in the real world – IJC MUSEUM

IJC MUSEUM collects excellent artwork representing the Japanese contemporary art scene in a virtual building as part of an experimental project combining art and the latest technology.

The exhibition space, viewable from all angles in a 360° panorama, was designed under the direction of an architect and provides an experience similar to actually visiting a real art museum.

Some of the artworks were 3D-scanned using state-of-the-art technology and can be viewed freely from any direction. Others were reproduced at super-high resolution, letting viewers come very close and magnify the details, which is not possible at real museums. This ambitious project with academic significance employs digital archiving and virtual reproduction of artworks including installation art that is no longer on display in the real world. In some ways, this virtual museum realizes a new method of art appreciation through its interactive virtual settings that realize what cannot be achieved through real museums.

IJC Museum

Visitors don’t have to be concerned about crowds or closing times. We hope you will freely enjoy our virtual museum in the cloud from wherever you are, any time.

■ How to enjoy IJC MUSEUM

A dramatic sense of scale and realism, as though viewing artwork in a real space, is made possible in browsers by the 3D capabilities of WebGL. When using a smart device, you can freely travel through the exhibition space via regular touch screen operation thanks to the 360° panoramic view. IJC MUSEUM currently features eight exhibition rooms including seven rooms (Room 01 to 07) for seven artists and an “Art Trip” exhibition room that provides Japan’s latest art-related information. You can move around and visit each room via corridors or select the room of a desired artist from a floor map to directly visit the room. The whole museum is designed so visitors can appreciate artworks in rooms optimally designed to match the artworks they contain.

■ Artwork by artists representing Japan’s contemporary art scene. Some artwork is only available for viewing at this museum.

The seven artists currently exhibiting at IJC MUSEUM represent Japan’s contemporary art scene and are active internationally as well as domestically. The museum gathers carefully selected samples of their work, including some rarely seen in real-life museums, such as a large sculpture shown for the first time in Japan and dismantled installation work usually very difficult to reproduce. An exhibition achievable only through a virtual museum is now becoming a reality.

 ■ Exhibition concept

The lives of people in Japan are quickly changing, and Japanese artists are creating works that reflect their changing society. Although the methods used by artists introduced at IJC MUSEUM vary greatly — ranging from drawings to installations — all the artists are examining how to deal with their changing world while reinterpreting Japanese traditional culture and employing new methodologies as needed.

Participating artists (honorific titles omitted) Yayoi Kusama, Hisashi Tenmyouya, Nerhol, Tabaimo, Taku Obata, Kohei Nawa, Manabu Ikeda

 What lies behind the realism of IJC MUSEUM’s architecture?

Point 1: Design and architecture

On the basis of the concept of “a museum in the cloud”, the team pursued the creation of a virtual museum offering incredible realism in the texture and details. The result is this entirely new museum of art that synthesizes reality and enables true art appreciation as experienced in real museums, as well as a sense of novelty only available in virtual reality.

Point 2: World-leading 3D scanning and texturing

To reproduce existing artworks in 3D virtual space, we digitized them as 3D models and added highly precise texture data. The resulting virtual reproductions are extremely realistic. In addition, high-precision 3D-scanned texture data was captured through high-resolution photography to add extra realism.

Point 3: High-level implementation through WebGL

To allow anyone to view high-quality models of the architecture and artwork, a renowned team in Japan optimally employed WebGL 3DCG technology to achieve real-time rendering of the museum building, exhibition rooms and artwork. This technology allows anybody to browse the artwork without special plug-ins through common browsers on PCs and smart devices.

A pioneering website focusing on the attractions of Japan

The “Is Japan Cool?” website presents attractive facets of Japan and has been in the news around the world since its inception in 2012 when former US Ambassador to Japan, John V. Roos, the Metropolitan Governor of Tokyo and other government influencers introduced the site through Twitter. Since then, the site has received comments from viewers in 152 nations/regions around the world.

Since its foundation, the “Is Japan Cool?” website has delved into the Japanese culture and promoted travel to Japan by introducing attractive aspects of this high-potential travel destination. The site has so far issued 10 in-depth feature stories focusing on themes symbolic of Japan — Discover, Tokyo, Okinawa, Cosplay, Tradition (Kyoto), Kawaii, Dreams (anime culture), Ramen, Shopping and Washoku. The 11th feature story will help foreigners discover art in Japan.

 Travel to Japan is popular around the world!

Reasons for visiting Japan and the increasing demand for art trips

According to a Japan Tourism Agency survey, 12.7% of foreigners planning to visit Japan expect to visit “art galleries and museums” during their stay. This makes it the 12th highest ranking reason for visiting Japan (Fig. 1), following “shopping” (which is especially popular among Chinese tourists), “natural scenic views in pastoral regions” and “traditional landscapes and old historic sites”. The top ranking reasons for visiting Japan are “enjoying Japanese cuisine”, “enjoying hotspring spas” and “staying in a ryokan”. According to a Japan Tourism Agency survey on satisfaction among visiting foreigners, 19.8% indicated they experienced “art or performing arts in Japanese museums, art museums or theaters” during their stay. Moreover, 82.9% of polled foreign visitors indicated a high level of satisfaction.

Since the “Is Japan Cool?” project team is dedicated to introducing attractive facets of Japan that can be personally experienced, we decided to support art-oriented travels (art trips) by creating the virtual museum.

■ An introduction to the project team

• Planner/Producer

Enjin Inc. is a creative agency that moves people’s emotions by employing all types of media (digital, movies, graphics, real events, etc.) without discrimination or bias, instead of conventional advertising schemes, and with a sense of spirited freedom under the “fun work, fun company” banner. Enjin handled planning of the Flying Norlin Project, the world’s first in-the-air store, which employed a number of drones. Other major projects have included the presentation movie for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics/Paralympics bid campaign, ANA’s “Is Japan Cool?” and OKINAHOURS for Okinawa Prefecture. The company has earned numerous domestic and international ad awards, including awards at the tokyo.interactive.ad.awards, ADFEST, The MOBIUS Award and Annual Grand Prix of FWA (Favourite Website Awards). http://en-jin.jp/

• Planning/CG/Photography/Web production

BIRDMAN is a progressive production team handling cutting-edge digital promotions. It handles not only web creative, but also interactive installations and various types of production including events. BIRDMAN always tackles challenges to create totally new experiences in any production format, regardless of software and hardware. The team has won more than 120 awards in Japan and abroad, including the Silver Award at Cannes Lions, the Gold Award at OneShow, two Grand Prix awards at Dentsu Advertising Award, an award at the Code Award Grand Prix, the Gold Award at ADFEST and the Silver Award at Spikes Asia. http://www.birdman.ne.jp

• Editorial/Writing

Born in 1984, she graduated from IAMAS and worked at NTT InterCommunication Center (ICC) before completing her masters at Kyoto University of Art & Design. She is now in charge of writing about art for various web media including the “Art Navi” exhibition information magazine run by Bijutsu Techo magazine.


(English) https://www.ana-cooljapan.com/contents/art/

(Chinese) https://cn.ana-cooljapan.com/contents/art/

“A virtual museum that enables site visitors to experience artwork by representative Japanese contemporary artists “firsthand” from anywhere in the world”.