London’s Natural History Museum has become the latest prominent European cultural institution to partner with Fliggy, the travel subsidiary of Chinese tech giant Alibaba, and host an interactive livestream tour.
With the U.K. capital still in lockdown, the museum remains closed to the public, but it welcomed an audience of 100,000 through its grand Gothic Revival halls by streaming on the Taobao Live and Fliggy apps.
During the two-hour broadcast on January 13, museum science educator Ayesha Meredith-Lewis (aided by a department experts and a simultaneous translator) introduced viewers to the museum’s world famous array of dinosaur skeletons, collections from naturalists Charles Darwin and James Cook, and a handful of the 8 million specimens making up the mollusk collection including discoveries made by the Challenger submarine on science’s first venture into deep sea.
The Natural History Museum is extremely popular with the more than 800,000 Chinese tourists that annually visit London, but aside from evidencing a willingness to engage a core international audience at a time of travel standstill, the livestream had an environmental and sustainability focus. It sought to promote Together for Our Planet, the UK’s action initiative ahead of hosting the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in late 2021.
As Executive Director Dr. Tim Littlewood offered in the livestream’s closing remarks, “The world is changing very rapidly due to one species and that is us. Through our amazing galleries and speaking to our scientists, you have had a taste of the natural world and wherever you are, we hope you will choose to connect with the natural world around you.”
The use of livestreaming was one of the most dynamic digital trends that emerged across China’s cultural landscape in 2020, and Fliggy helped guide and platform debut livestreams from the likes of the British Museum, the Louvre, and the Prado — broadcasts reached hundreds of thousands of Chinese viewers and, in some cases, generated revenue through e-commerce sales. It seems this momentum is set to continue into 2021.