Fri, Jul 02, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Museum boss vows facelift will reach completion in 2006

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The renovation and expansion of the National Palace Museum, which has been delayed for the past year and a half, will be finished in February 2006, the museum's director, Shih Shou-chien (石守謙), said yesterday.

Shih held a news conference yesterday in response to a report in a local Chinese-language newspaper on Wednesday in which it was claimed that the museum was making no progress on the renovation and expansion project. The report predicted that the overhauled museum would be a dangerous building due to inadequate quakeproofing.

According to the report, the museum has done little more than erecting fences and controlling traffic around the buildings since it restarted the renovation project in March.

Shih yesterday rebutted these accusations, saying that almost all the construction projects were close to completion and that work on the underground passages would begin in weeks.

The renovation and expansion project was supposed to have been completed in May, but construction only started in March owing to its delayed budget.

Shih said that construction work for a museum was inherently more complicated than for other buildings, especially given that the National Palace Museum needs to be open year-round, which has further complicated the overhaul project.

"The museum houses the most precious historic artifacts of Chinese culture and would never hastily initiate a renovation plan that could endanger the artifacts and visitors. Everything we are doing conforms to the relevant government regulations," Shih said.

no delays

Shih promised that the museum, with its new appearance and improved functionality, would be opened to the public in February 2006 and that there would be no delays affecting the renovation projects.

Representatives of four construction management companies involved in the project also attended the news conference. They said that work was proceeding according to schedule and that all of the museum's quakeproofing measures had been approved by the National Center for Research on Earthquake Engineering.

A center official, Chang Kuo-chun (張國鎮), said yesterday that the center has spent three months reviewing the quakeproofing plans provided by the construction teams and could find nothing wrong.

steps taken

In response to complaints from both domestic and international visitors that they have been inconvenienced by the delays, museum vice director Lin Mun-lee (林曼麗) said that several steps have been taken to compensate for the inconvenience caused by the construction work, such as providing the public with a larger number of shuttle buses, discounted tickets and gift-shop items.

Lin said that it was the first time in several decades that the museum has had the opportunity to conduct renovation work and urged visitors to be tolerant of the temporary inconvenience.

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