Sat, Mar 16, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Lawmakers seek to gain control of Aboriginal art

PRESERVATION Decrying the poor condition in which the National Taiwan Museum keeps its Aboriginal artifacts, Aboriginal lawmakers yesterday urged they be put into safer hands

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

If the National Taiwan Museum can't take good care of its Aboriginal relics, then the prized objects should be put into better hands -- those of the Aborigines' themselves -- two lawmakers said yesterday.

"Noting the museum's dismal record of care for the relics, we, the Aborigines, wish to care for these treasures ourselves," said DPP legislator Chen Tao-ming (陳道明), a descendant of the Taroko tribe.

"Since there is yet to be a public museum dedicated exclusively to Aborigines," he added, "we strongly recommend that one be built to display the arts and cultures of the land's earliest settlers."

Chen made the comments yesterday after a tour of the museum's storage rooms with independent lawmaker Kao-Chin Su-mei (高金素梅), a descendant of the Atayal tribe.

Both lawmakers voiced their dissatisfaction over the way the museum managed its collection in the storage rooms.

"While some storage rooms are in good condition," Chen said, "the condition of some others is simply quite ridiculous."

Kao echoed Chen's remarks, noting that the museum's Hsintien storage room lacks decent care and "that dust and spider webs can be seen everywhere."

"If tribal elders came and saw the way our ancestral relics are being kept here, they would definitely feel heartache," Kao said.

Kao added that it was regrettable to see these relics, left behind by their ancestors decades ago, kept in such miserable condition and under such dismal inventory-monitoring practices.

Kao was referring to the fact, disclosed by DPP legislator Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻) last month, that a large number of relics have been replaced or are missing from the museum's sorting rooms.

"If the museum can't take adequate care of its Aboriginal collection, then they should let us Aborigines care for them ourselves in our own museum," said Kao.

In response to the dissatisfaction both Chen and Kao expressed over the way the museum has managed its collection, James An (安奎), director of the National Taiwan Museum, said that the museum currently has a task force taking inventory of the relics.

"Aside from improving the condition of the storage rooms, we hope to have preliminary inventory results within the next three months," said An, adding that any irregularities found during the inventory process would be reported to experts for further investigation.

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