Fri, Feb 09, 2007 - Page 13 News List

'Old is new' at the nation's top museum

The National Palace Museum celebrates reopening after four years of renovations with performances by world-renowned groups this weekend


The Ming Hwa Yuan Taiwanese Opera Troupe, the Ju Percussion Group and U Theater will present their world-renowned performances in front of the National Palace Museum this weekend.


The National Place Museum's (NPM, 國立故宮博物院) reopening celebrations reflect the world-famous repository of Chinese treasures' new priority: to become a living cultural center.

In accordance with its new ethos, NPM is holding an art fair featuring handicrafts and innovative designs by local artists drawing inspiration from Sung Dynasty art and an outdoor festival with performances by Ming Hwa Yuan Taiwanese Opera Troupe (明華園戲劇團), Ju Percussion Group (朱宗慶打擊樂團) and U Theater (優劇場) this weekend and next.

Envisaged as a futuristic museum that embraces technology, NPM has digitized archives and constructed an e-learning Web site to reach out to a global audience and facilitate academic exchanges. Through the utilization of digital technologies, ancient objects have been given a new lease on life.

Under the leadership of the museum's first female director, Lin Man-li (林曼麗), NPM will invite guest curators to give fresh perspectives on its vast collection of Chinese treasures.

As a forward thinking veteran art professional, Lin has initiated the "Old is New" project that has seen NPM collaborate with local design teams and international design brands such as Alessi to modernize the museum's image. The online museum store opened last year, and is an ambitious project to market the NPM as a brand, sell replicas and create added value to its vast unexplored treasures.

With the multimedia learning area, renovated film screening facility, spacious gift store and the adjacent three-floor building that houses restaurants and is scheduled to open by the end of the year, NPM has made fast progress towards making distant history relevant to contemporary life.

For Your Information:

What: National Palace Museum Outdoor Arts Festival (故宮戶外藝術節)

Where: NPM Front Plaza at 221 Zhishan Rd Sec 2, Taipei (台北市至善路二段221號)

When: For the arts fun fair, today through Sunday from 11am to 7pm; outdoor

performances from 7pm to 9pm. All events are free of charge

On the Net:

First kicked off by Japan's highly regarded Noh theater group last weekend, NPM's series of outdoor performance highlights the concept of "Old is New" by featuring local performing groups that fuse the traditional with contemporary aesthetics. Ming Hwa Yuan Taiwanese Opera Troupe, Ju Percussion Group and U Theater will perform tonight, tomorrow and Sunday, respectively.

The 70-year-old Ming Hwa Yuan troupe will feature stage and lighting designs in the form of popular open air theater (野台戲) and present its bold new piece about a junior high student who travels back to the Ming Dynasty in a time machine and helps the dynasty's founder, Chu Yuan-chang (朱元璋), forge his empire.

Taiwan's foremost percussion ensemble Ju Percussion Group's line-up blends world music with a local flavor. Song of Guatamala and Latin Rhapsody are a musical journey from Africa to South America; percussion instruments from the East and West will be played together in Welcome the New Year while The Happy Dining Car is a battle between musical instruments and household utensils. The ensemble will also feature its classic works such as Masks in which masked taiko drummers strike out dramatic beats accompanied by marimba players.

The acclaimed U Theater will demonstrate the rigorous training its members follow and their artistry in meditation, martial arts, drumming and modern theater. Sunday's featured masterpieces include The Great Lion's Roar, a story about a warrior's quest for wisdom and bravery during the journey to a mountain peak.

Each group will hold discussions and demonstration sessions prior to performances from 4:30pm to 5:30pm each day.

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