600-piece artwork collection returns home to Taiwan

Sun Ten Museum in California, U.S. donated a huge collection to the Ministry of Culture

Minister Cheng (center) and curator Chen (right) (MOC website)

Minister Cheng (center) and curator Chen (right) (MOC website)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Sun Ten Museum in Irvine, California has donated its entire collection, free of charge, to Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture. It was received in a ceremony in Taichung yesterday (Nov. 1).

The ministry accepted the 600-piece collection from gallery curator Chen Fei-lung (陳飛龍). The curator made a special trip to Taiwan on behalf of Sun Ten Museum, which was founded by pharmaceutical company executive Dr. Hsu Hong-yen (許鴻源).

Dr. Hsu passed away in 1991, and his eldest son, Charles Hsu (許照信), took on ownership of the gallery. According to the Ministry of Culture website, he wanted to help realize his father’s wishes with regards to the collection.

"These paintings are not my own, they are the property of the Taiwanese people. One day, I want the entire collection to be returned home, to be returned to Taiwan," Hsu's son professed.

A painting by Liao Chi-chun (廖繼春) whose work is featured in the collection (Wikipedia image)

The ceremony on Thursday represented more than just an exchange of artwork, carrying with it the symbolic gesture of returning to Taiwan a part of its history. Current Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) was particularly touched by the family’s generosity, as she has worked hard to promote the reconstruction of Taiwanese history since taking office. Cheng proposed a five-year infrastructural development program for historical sites last year.

In a speech at the ceremony, Cheng expressed her deepest gratitude on behalf of the country for the Hsu family’s kind donation. In addition to awarding curator Chen with a certificate of gratitude, she said the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts has been provided with instructions regarding transporting and displaying the collection.

She added that the country’s leading professionals will be harnessed to ensure proper research, collection, restoration, and promotion to solidify the collection within the broader context of Taiwanese art, allowing its historical significance to shine brightly.

Chen Fei-lung expressed that the collection had been curated and preserved through the love of two generations of the Hsu family. While Culture Minister Cheng was incredibly moved by the donation, Chen said it was in fact he who ought to offer thanks to Cheng for her continued efforts in upholding Taiwanese cultural history. He was happy the artworks could finally “return home.”

The Ministry of Culture website notes the collection contains works spanning generations, from Japanese colonization through the post-war period, and to the works of modern-day artists who grew up in the 70s and 80s. Many of the artists featured in the collection are still active and producing new works today.