Beyond the Walls

In Praise of Three Stars (detail)New interactive website explores Chinese art and culture

Highlighting works from VMFA’s East Asian art collection as well as objects from other institutions, this website explores Chinese art and culture allowing you to virtually interact with objects anytime from your computer or mobile device. Complements the Beyond the Walls exhibition, which runs until Jun 30, 2015.



Screenshot of VMFA calligraphy interactive

Write it! Practice Chinese calligraphy

Calligraphy, or the art of writing, was historically considered the highest visual art form in China. To study and develop their skills, students of calligraphy would copy the works of well-known practitioners, using brushes, ink, inkstone, water, and paper to write and paint. In this section, practice writing Chinese characters by following the brushstrokes of a skilled calligrapher, and, as you do, learn more about symbols of good fortune that can be found in VMFA’s collection of Chinese art.

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Screenshot of VMFA seal making interactive

Design It! Create your own Chinese seal

First choose from a selection of icons inspired by VMFA’s collection of Chinese art. Next, add your initials or monogram to your design. Finally, “carve” your seal. You can save it, print it, or share it through social media.

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Screenshot of VMFA handscroll interactive

Unroll It! Explore Chinese painting

There are a variety of formats used in traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy. Typically, these works are created by artists on sheets of paper or silk laid on a flat surface and then mounted onto similar material with water soluble glue. Because of their fragility, most of these works of art are intended only for occasional display. In this section, virtually unroll and view works of art that are too delicate to handle in reality.

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Screenshot of VMFA bronze bell interactive

Play it! Make your own music

For thousands of years music has been an important part of Chinese culture, including religious and public ceremonies, scholarly pursuits, and entertainment. Bronze bells, called zhong in Chinese, were cast to produce two distinctly different tones. Hanging together from a wooden frame, the zhong were played by musicians in a seated or kneeling position striking the outside of each bell with a wooden mallet. In this section, make your own music in the style of ancient Chinese musicians. Touch virtual bells in the center and the side to hear two different sounds.

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