Title: Time, Culture and Identity: Exploring Horological Collections with UK-China Museum Audiences
Author: Carol CHUNG    
Jounal: Chinese Annals of History of Science and Technology
YEAR: 2020
Vol.: 4
No.: s
Page: 082–102
Abstract: This paper discusses cross-cultural understanding of museum collections by looking into transnational audience engagement with the imperial clock collection of the Palace Museum in Beijing. The audience research took place in three sites: the Hong Kong Science Museum, the Palace Museum in Beijing, and the Science Museum in London. Audience data were collected using qualitative methods, such as intercept interviews, focus groups, and informal group discussions with non-specialist and specialist audiences across the three locations. The qualitative samples suggest that UK-China audiences draw from different cultural references when they engage with the unique “singsongs” in the imperial clock collection. Despite the divergence of cultural connections made across audiences in the UK and China, it is consistent in the audience data that the appeal of the clocks is reinforced by seeing their movement. The data also indicate a desire to connect with human stories behind the creation, trade, and conservation of singsongs, and expectations for a digital resource that is visually captivating and offers additional insights into the singsongs, such as the demonstration, mechanism, and backstory of the automatons. This paper concludes with a reflection on the implications of audience data for the interpretation strategy of a London-based exhibition featuring the singsongs, and considerations for the development of a digital experience about the imperial horological collections that speaks to audiences across the UK and China.