The National Palace Museum, holder of the world’s largest collection of Chinese artifacts, plans to hold an exhibition in the UK and Japan, the museum said yesterday.
“We are negotiating with the British Museum for an exchange of exhibitions — we will hold an exhibition of Chinese treasures at the British Museum and they will display their collection of Greek sculptures at the National Palace Museum,” a museum press officer said.
“The negotiations are ongoing. We don’t know when the exhibitions can be held, because even after we have reached an agreement, we have to wait till both museums have the space to hold the exhibitions,” she said, asking not to be named.
The museum is also seeking to hold an exhibition in Japan.
“Many Japanese museums have invited us to hold an exhibition in Japan, but the obstacle is that Japan does not have the Law of Guaranteed Return, which ensures that after the exhibition, our exhibits will be returned to Taiwan and not be seized by China,” she said.
“We hope Japan can either enact the Law of the Guaranteed Return or issue a statement, with legal effect, to pledge that our exhibits will be returned to Taiwan after the exhibition,” the press officer said.
Some 2.6 million Taiwanese and foreigners visit the National Palace Museum each year. Half are Japanese, who are often particularly interested in Chinese calligraphy.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government took the best artifacts from the Palace Museum in Beijing and a museum in Nanjing — a total of 650,000 pieces — and brought them to Taipei when it lost the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
Since then, the artifacts have been preserved at the National Palace Museum and are put on display by rotation.
China considers the artworks the heritage of China, and fearing that Beijing might impound the artifacts through its diplomatic ties with other countries, Taiwan has allowed the National Palace Museum to send its treasures abroad on only a few occasions.
In February, the museum held an exhibition in Austria following two years of negotiations to convince Vienna to sign the Law of Guaranteed Return.