Sat, Jul 10, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Book helping museum bid

SPANISH CONNECTION The compiled history of an international museum foundation and its Spanish branch may assist Taichung City's bid for a museum

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

A new book supported by the National Culture and Arts Foundation hoping to shed light on the debate about the establishment of a Taichung Guggenheim Museum was released yesterday during a press conference in Taipei.

The Perspective of the Guggenheim Museums is the result of three years of work by author Wong Chi Feng (翁基峰), a local artist and art critic.

"The timing of this book is ideal, since the budget of the museum is still under debate," Huang Tsai-lang (黃才郎), head of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum said about the book.

The book explains the history of the Solomon Guggenheim Foundation and the establishments of its various museum branches throughout the world, most notably concentrating on the foundation's Bilbao branch in Spain. In his book, Wong explores the effect the museum had on Bilbao's native art and culture through interviews with local artisans, reporters, government officials and academics.

"Some people argue that the only purpose of a Taichung Guggenheim is brand-name appeal. But from my interviews with people in Bilboa, I believe that a Taichung branch would revolutionize the local art community," Wong said.

A Taichung Guggenheim has been in the works since 2001. After negotiations with the Solomon Guggenheim Foundation about the possibility of a Taichung branch, plans to build the museum got underway when Premier Yu Shyi-kun said last year that the central government would fund 80 percent of the museum project.

Although the Taichung City Council agreed last October to foot the remaining 20 percent, but the city has been unable to sign with the foundation because the central government's budget is frozen in the Legislative Yuan due to ongoing debate.

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