TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei’s National Palace Museum will close for three years in 2020, KMT legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) announced today.
The museum is to undergo a complete renovation in order to transform it into a world-class tourist attraction and enhance its preservation capabilities. Collections currently housed by the Taipei museum will be temporarily transferred to the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum in Chiayi (嘉義).
In late 2017, the government approved a six-year, NT$10.1 billion (US$342.2 million) initiative to improve all facets of the National Palace Museum, including both of its branches. The comprehensive plan includes efforts to improve museum landscapes, exhibition activity coordination and boost international promotion. Over the 20 years following the renovation, ticket receipts and product revenues have been projected to shoot up by NT$7.6 billion (US$246 million) and NT$11.2 (US$362.5 billion) respectively.
The Taipei branch renovation plan was examined in a Legislative Yuan Education and Culture Committee meeting today (Nov. 12). It states that the National Palace Museum Library Building will close first in July 2019, after the Daqian Zhang (張大千) exhibition it currently holds comes to an end. The rest of the museum will close in 2020, and collections on display will be transferred to the Chiayi branch in the following year.
Director of the National Palace Museum, Chen Chi-nan (陳其南) said the renovation plan includes proposals to rebuild and expand particular areas of the museum, however, a more rigorous schedule of construction operations is yet to be devised.
He said almost every building needs renovation work. The museum has previously undergone lower-scale refurbishments without shutting its doors, but it was unanimously agreed by staff and board members that the entire building must be closed this time around, Chen said.
Legislator Ko said this is the first time the museum has closed for an extended period since it was established in Taipei in 1965. Despite the government already approving the renovation project, she raised concerns about the length of closure. Ko warned about potential effects on Taiwan’s tourist economy, noting that the museum brings in nearly 5 million visitors each year, the majority of whom are foreign tourists.
Museum Director Chen reiterated, however, that the Taipei museum temporarily shutting down would not mean there is no National Palace Museum for the next 3 years. He emphasized that the Chiayi Branch and the Taipei branch are both part of the National Palace Museum. Visitors will be able to see the collections currently held by the Taipei branch at the Chiayi branch after it ceases operations.
The Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum in Chiayi (Wikimedia Commons image)
Although KMT legislators continued to question the necessity and legality of the closure at today’s committee meeting, DPP legislator Rosalia Wu (吳思瑤) declared that to ensure some of Taiwan’s most important cultural artifacts continue to be safely preserved, the closure is necessary. She additionally reminded the National Palace Museum that it must continue to improve its ability to handle and transport collections.
Director Chen Chi-nan hopes the move will encourage more foreign tourists to visit the museum’s southern branch. Out of the 5 million guests the National Palace museum welcomes each year, three quarters are foreign tourists, making them a key target demographic when devising marketing strategies.
The deputy director of the museum, Huang Yong-tai (黃永泰), said the institute hopes collections currently housed by the Taipei branch will be available for viewing in the Chiayi branch from January 2020.
More information on the National Palace Museum and its current exhibitions can be found on the official website.