Sat, Feb 21, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Taiwan wary about lending treasures

PALACE ARTIFACTS A representative from the National Palace Museum said that an agreement on exchanges of art would have to be hammered out by her superiors

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Taiwan’s National Palace Museum (NPM) will not be sharing its treasure trove of Chinese art with the Palace Museum in Beijing despite a nine-point consensus on closer cooperation and exchange, National Palace Museum Director Chou Kung-shin (周功鑫) said on Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport upon returning from China, Chou said that without touching on sensitive designation and legal issues, the two museums reached a consensus on academic, archive and art-conservation exchanges, as well as cooperating on publications and exhibitions.

Responding to a foreign wire-service journalist’s question as to whether and when valuable NPM artworks would be transported across the Taiwan Strait to be exhibited in China, Chou said she had only concluded the “first stage” of negotiations, and that her superiors would have to conduct the “second stage.”

“I will not speculate on it. There is no timetable for this matter because there are national policies involved,” she said.

Chou said her just-concluded visits to the Palace Museum in Beijing and the Shanghai Museum were fruitful and rewarding despite tight schedules.

“The two museums also agreed to strengthen museum-to-museum exchanges based on the principle of parity and to engage in in-residence exchanges,” she said.

“Yet we have not signed any agreements for the cooperation and exchange programs. There were only meeting minutes,” Chou said.

Chou led an NPM delegation to visit Beijing from last Saturday to last Monday, where she met with Beijing Palace Museum curator Zheng Xinmiao (鄭欣淼).

In contrast to Taiwan’s passionate attention to Chou’s visit, Beijing kept a low profile during the visit, backpedaling on its promise to allow journalists to cover the airport welcoming ceremony for Chou and her group.

A news conference scheduled to take place on Sunday after a meeting between staff members of the two museums was also canceled.

When asked about his views on the cancelation, Su Ching-feng (蘇慶豐), director of the NPM public affairs office, said only that the delegation respected its host’s arrangement.

Chou also visited the Shanghai Museum on Tuesday and Wednesday where she discussed feasible cooperative programs with top officials.

The NPM in suburban Taipei is home to more than 650,000 of the finest pieces of ancient Chinese art and artifacts, with others held by several Chinese museums, particularly the Palace Museum in Beijing.

The Palace Museum in Beijing has agreed, on a case-by-case premise, to lend its Taiwan counterpart 29 Qing dynasty artifacts for a three-month exhibition that will begin in October this year. Beijing’s loan of its collection to Taipei will make possible the first display of the imperial artifacts under one roof since they were split up six decades ago.

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