Sat, Sep 06, 2014 - Page 12 News List

Museum courts migrant workers

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

New immigrants view the Exhibition of Islamic Life and Culture at an “open museum day” preview at the National Taiwan Museum.

Photo Courtesy of National Taiwan Museum

Next Sunday, Taiwan’s oldest museum hopes to lure a more diverse crowd through its front door.

The National Taiwan Museum (NTM, 國立台灣博物館) is holding an “open museum day,” offering free admission for migrant workers and foreign spouses to all exhibits on Sunday, Sept. 14.

There’s the Exhibition of Islamic Life and Culture (伊斯蘭:文化與生活特展), which will be on view for its final day.

By popular demand, Exhibition of Islamic Life and Culture has been extended from its original closing date of June 22 to next Sunday.

This special exhibition presents religious artifacts, manuscripts, musical instruments and other objects that survey Islamic civilization and daily life.

NTM, located at the 228 Peace Memorial Park in downtown Taipei, opened its doors in 1908. It is the only museum established during the Japanese colonial era that is still in operation at its original site.

On Sundays and holidays, the 228 Peace Memorial Park is full of migrant workers, new immigrants and foreign spouses meeting friends on their day off.

Workers seldom enter the museum for a visit, according to museum staff.

“I asked our staff to speak to them and to find out why. Most of them preferred to stay at a distance because they didn’t think the museum was for foreigners and blue-collar workers,” said NTM deputy director Lin Hwa-ching (林華慶).

Lin said NTM wants to connect with migrant workers and new immigrants, particularly to invite them into the Exhibition of Islamic Life and Culture.

“Quite a number of migrant workers and foreign spouses are from Indonesia and are Muslims. So this exhibit can promote multicultural dialogue and mutual exchange,” he said.

Lin said that the exhibit may also be able to help the children of international marriages explore the cultural traditions of their parent’s home country.

Next Sunday, visitors can also view NTM’s other exhibits: Mysterious Pescadores, about the biodiversity and marine geomorphology of southern Penghu County’s four islands; Taiwan Black Jade, about unique Taiwanese gems from the metamorphic rocks of the east coast; and an exhibition on the Hokutolite (北投石), a radium-containing rare mineral from Beitou’s hot springs which was discovered in 1905 by the renowned Japanese mineralogist Okamoto Yohachiro.

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