TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The National Palace Museum (NPM) said Wednesday (May 6) that its visitor numbers for the month of April have dropped by 99 percent compared to the same period last year.
As the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to claim victims around the world, many museums in Taiwan have suffered a dramatic decrease in visitor numbers, including the NPM and the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. In late March, the NPM was also forced to shorten operation hours and limit guests to 100 at a time due to the social distancing guidelines issued by the country's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
During a NPM budget review at the Legislative Yuan Wednesday morning, Kuomintang (KMT) legislator Lin Yi-hua (林奕華) pointed out that the Taipei branch of the world-renowned museum only recorded 10,141 visitors last month, compared to the 340,563 visitors it received in April last year. She added that the NPM's revenue from ticket sales also dropped from last year's NT$90.5 million (US$3 million) to this year's NT$550,000, reported UDN.
NPM President Wu Mi-cha (吳密察) described the steep visitor drop as the worst the museum has seen since its establishment in Taipei in 1965. He explained that another factor for the significant decrease in visitors was Taiwan's entry ban on international tourists, who the NPM relies on for most of its income.
Wu said that hopefully the improving pandemic situation in Taiwan would bring back some crowds in the second half of the year, as he promised the museum would continue to strengthen its online virtual-reality (VR) exhibitions. He said that the NPM will also host its first podcast series on May 18 to celebrate International Museum Day, during which he will personally answer questions from online audience members, reported ETtoday.