Fri, Nov 23, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Highways and Byways: Legacy of a shipping magnate

The Evergreen Maritime Museum in Taipei displays around 600 objects over five floors showing our relationship to the sea over several millennia through boats, maps and paintings

By Steven Crook  /  Contributing reporter

A model of a Chinese fuchuan (boat made in the nautical style of Fujian).

Photo courtesy of Evergreen Maritime Museum

On October 7, the Evergreen Maritime Museum (長榮海事博物館) in Taipei marked its tenth anniversary. The artifacts collected and displayed here explore various aspects of humanity’s interaction with the oceans, and will appeal to anyone interested in history or engineering or both.

Located where Ketagalan Boulevard and Zhongshan South Road (中山南路) meet with Renai Road (仁愛路) and Xinyi Road (信義), the museum couldn’t be any more central. It faces the Presidential Office, and NTU Hospital Metro Station is a 10 minute walk away.

The museum belongs to the Chang Yung-fa Foundation, created by and named for the tycoon who established the Evergreen Group (長榮集團), a Taiwanese conglomerate that includes a global shipping business and the airlines EVA Air and UNI Air.

MODEL BOATS

Chang Yung-fa (張榮發, 1927–2016) began working on ships when he was 18, and bought his first vessel in 1968. When his businesses began to flourish, long before he considered opening a museum, Chang began collecting maritime relics. He was particularly interested in models of boats and ships, and for many visitors these fabulously detailed mockups are the most memorable part of the museum.

More than a score of models represent ships that have been part of Evergreen’s fleet. The company was one of the first to embrace containerization, and for a period it was the world’s top container shipping line. With around 200 vessels, it remains among the world’s top six shippers in terms of market share.

Thankfully, the museum goes far beyond corporate propaganda. In keeping with its stated mission — “to preserve and present the history, art and science of boats and ships, in the hope of generating public interest in maritime culture” — the museum also displays maps of historical importance, oil paintings and items like a collapsible liferaft, which younger visitors like to climb aboard. The only facet of human activity on the oceans which the museum doesn’t cover is piracy.

IF YOU GO

GETTING THERE

>> Evergreen Maritime Museum is located in the Chang Yung-fa Foundation Building (財團法人張榮發基金會國際會議中心), 1-5F, 11 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路11號1-5樓) . Open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9am to 5pm. On the Net: www.evergreenmuseum.org.tw


During his lifetime, Chang donated his collection of 4,500 items to the museum. Around 600 of them are now on display.

Of the four vessels displayed in the lobby, the two most interesting are a traditional fishing boat made and used by the indigenous inhabitants of Taiwan’s Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼), and an authentic Arabian dhow. A Dubai-based friend of Chang’s helped him arrange the building of the dhow in the mid-1990s.

Visitors are advised to proceed from the lobby to the fifth floor, then work their way downstairs. This way, they’ll begin with humanity’s most ancient watercraft. Among them are a coracle from the British Isles, an inflated goat skin (a way of crossing rivers in Assyria), a Maori waka, a Taiwanese bamboo raft and the kind of flat-bottomed coastal boat still common in the Philippines.

Also represented are oar-powered triremes like those that fought sea battles in the Mediterranean as recently as the 18th century, and Viking longships. Unlike many seacraft, which need space and time to turn around, the latter could reverse out of a tight spot at the drop of a horned helmet. Whereas most wooden ships are carvel-built, meaning the hull planks are fastened edge to edge, longships were clinker-built, the edges of hull planks overlapping each other, like weatherboard on the side of a house.

Several of the models on this floor, including those of the Mayflower and the Golden Hind, were individually ordered by Chang and crafted by renowned Japanese miniature-ship builder Toshio Uchiyama. Others were purchased at auctions.

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