Publication Date: December 29, 2015
National Palace Museum Southern Branch began its trial period Dec. 28 in Chiayi County, marking a significant development in the government’s efforts to enhance art facilities in southern Taiwan.
During the ceremony, President Ma Ying-jeou praised the contributions made by all project participants, particularly the devotion of the construction workers who built the facility with speed and precision.
“This is the best gift for the NPM’s 90th anniversary,” Ma said. “The complex also enriches the local art scene while laying the foundation for the area’s cultural infrastructure in the future.”
Initiated 15 years ago, the 70-hectare museum is designed by acclaimed Taiwan architect Kris Yao, recipient of the 2014 Honorary Fellowship of the American Institute of Architects. The NT$10.93 billion (US$331 million) project comprises a main exhibition hall, an artificial lake and a landscape park.
In addition, a 141.74-meter-long bridge designed to resemble a rainbow provides the only access to the glass-and-steel building, which is equipped with the latest technology to protect the facility from droughts, earthquakes and floods.
According to NPM Director Fung Ming-chu, the southern branch is set to become a regional beacon of Asian art and culture. For the six-month trial period the museum is presenting 10 exhibitions including Asian textiles and tea culture, Buddhist art, Japan’s Imari porcelains, South Asian costumes, Islamic jade and blue-and-white china of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).
The signature “Jadeite Cabbage with Insects” is also on display. The piece will be replaced by one other national treasure “Meat-shaped Stone” as the southern Taiwan facility’s main attraction starting Oct. 4 next year.
Another highlight is the “Tibetan Dragon Sutra” written in gold ink and covered by a screen embroidered in five colors. Decorated with a dragon, the screen is on exhibit for the first time as it is too large for the Taipei museum. The new facility’s 7.2-meter-high exhibition hall presents an opportunity for the piece to be shown in all its glory.
“Given that visitor reservations for January next year are already full, the estimated number of museum-goers for the first-year run has come in at 1.5 to 2 million,” Fung said. “We have every reason to believe the new museum will further help foster appreciation of Asia’s cultural diversity and historical memory.” (YCH-JG)