After serving as the National Palace Museum’s (NPM) first female director, Lin Man-li went back to being a professor at National Taipei University of Education (NTUE). In August last year, she obtained access to a newly constructed building which was to serve as the Museum of National Taipei University of Education (MoNTUE), with herself serving as director of planning and chief engineer for construction of the museum. After half a year of indoor construction, Lin recruited Japanese architect Toyoda Keisuke to help out with the project, turning the building into a veritable contemporary art venue, which will be open to the public and hold its first exhibition at the end of this month.
The museum building includes a basement floor with three stories above it, including areas for exhibitions, performances, a cafe and a small art boutique. It is located to the right of the school’s main gate off of Heping East Road, giving it a great central location in Taipei. Architect Chiang Chih-hao’s main design contribution for the museum has three sides of the building made entirely of glass, allowing plenty of light to penetrate inside to create a bright ambience. Looking at the museum from Heping, you can see the campus greenery through the building, and standing on the second or third floor of the museum, you can observe the MRT line running along Heping and the rhythms of the city. These distinct qualities that Toyoda and his team of architects have given the building combine the indoor space and public art in such a way that make it the epitome of a modern fine arts museum.
Lin does not mince words in talking about the expenditures incurred when building an art museum on a university campus. Some people asked her why she did not rent out the space to a company and simply rake in the profits, but she was convinced that it was the perfect space to build a museum. It will be one of the most unique museums on a university campus and also serve as a platform to connect the university and the city, Lin says. For this costly artistic vision, Lin once again put her fundraising skills to the test, working very hard to find sponsors. She hopes the museum will also become a place for people to gain professional experience and training, and give students a chance to see how an art museum is run.
The museum’s debut exhibit, “Still a Vanguard of Education and a Pioneer in the Arts,” which begins on Sept. 25, is a look at the art of modern Taiwanese artists and the development of art education in Taiwan when Taiwan was under Japanese rule (1895-1945), displaying the works of artists who first studied at NTUE and then went to further their studies in Japan, including renowned artists Lee Shih-chiao, Liao Chi-chun, Huang Tu-shui, and Chen Cheng-po. They have also invited film maestro Tsai Ming-liang to create a unique film commemorating these venerable artists, providing a contemporary artist’s response to history.
Lin hopes that the museum will serve as more than a venue to house and display art, but as a place for a variety of artistic creations and diverse exhibitions and performances, making it a spot for all of these energies to converge. It is expected that MoNTUE will give free rein to the imagination and inspire interdisciplinary works and people working in different fields to come together, connect and share, Lin says.