Every International Museum Day, cultural institutions worldwide find ways to engage local and global communities, centering the role of museums in within society. Despite a travel lockdown, China’s cultural sector is already abuzz in the run-up to this year’s event on May 18, with Alipay, for one, leading a collaboration with nine Italian museums, with the support of marketing agency Digital to Asia.

What happened

Alipay Italian Museums in China

Via Alipay’s Lifestyle Account, users can navigate through information about the history and collections of nine Italian institutions. Images: museitaliani on Alipay

Last week, Ant Group’s payment app unveiled Italian Museums in China (MITICI), an initiative that saw nine Italian institutions platformed on the Alipay Lifestyle Account. On the digital tool, users can explore the history and collections of these cultural organizations — including the Royal Museums of Turin, the National Galleries of Ancient Art in Rome, the National Archaeological Museum of Taranto, and Bargello National Museum in Florence — in editorials and images. They can also call up further tourist and ticketing information.

MITICI has garnered significant support from the Italian Ministry of Culture. It is seen as a digital solution to arts tourism since non-essential international travel is highly discouraged by the Chinese government due to its zero-COVID initiatives. 

Why it matters

The initiative enables Chinese consumers to maintain their cultural participation and Italian institutions a connection to its Chinese audiences. Image: Digital To Asia

Chinese tourists make up a good bulk of international tourism revenue. According to one report, in 2019, Chinese tourists made up 20percent of global tourism revenue. From 2020, global Chinese tourism spending fell by 61 percent due to travel restrictions — a situation not helped by the fact that as of May 2022, 32 Chinese cities are back under lockdown.

Given that 15 percent of Italy’s gross domestic product is tourism and Chinese tourists have significant purchasing power, MITICI offers a welcome cultural window. In spite of COVID restrictions, it enables Chinese consumers to maintain their cultural participation and Italian institutions a connection to its Chinese audiences, in the spirit of International Museum Day.

The initiative also adds to Alipay’s cultural credentials, if not indicating its continued cultural commitments, following up on the platform’s partnership with 24 museums to unveil Chinese New Year-themed NFTs and with Henan Museum to launch its virtual blind boxes.

What they said

“The National Archaeological Museum of Taranto is delighted to engage and interact with those who, through the Alipay Lifestyle Account, seek an increasingly engaging and inclusive access to cultural heritage.” — Eva Degl’Innocenti, Director, National Archaeological Museum of Taranto

“The Alipay platform is committed to supporting institutions and brands to further enhance their connection and engagement with consumers through digital operation. We are delighted to see Italian museums leveraging mobile tools to build and enhance their relationship with Chinese consumers.” — Pietro Candela, Head of Business Development in Europe, Alipay


Jing Culture & Commerce