The museum's employees began building a mobile application for the museum during the second half of 2012. Zhuang Ying, then-editor of the museum's English website, was a member of the app-building team.
"Our first app was planned to introduce collections of the museum to the users. We hoped to identify an entry point, through which we could attract more people to pay attention to the deep culture of the Forbidden City," recalls Zhuang.
Twelve Beauties of Prince Yong, the museum's first app, was released in May 2013. The app was based on the study of Twelve Beauties of Prince Yong (a set of screen paintings), which had been conducted by experts in the museum. Through the app, users can get a glimpse of the exquisite, elegant life of the court ladies in the imperial family. The interactive experience guides users through 12 meticulously depicted scenes in which accessories, furniture and objects for interior decoration aptly illustrate the raison d'être of some of the museum's highly idiosyncratic collections. More than 200,000 users downloaded the app in the first two weeks after it was released.
To date, the museum has developed and released nine apps. Many of the apps introduce the museum's valuable collections to the public. The Palace Museum Community, the ninth app, was released on May 18 (International Museum Day), 2017. As an online cultural community, the app provides an original cultural experience and a sustainable cultural ecosystem to its users. Followers are able to explore a multipurpose space. The app includes an informationrelease platform, where users can find everything they need to know about the museum, including the collections, architecture, exhibitions and visitor services. The app also features a virtual community, which enables users to create their own personal space and interact with "neighbors" on the social network.