Wed, Jan 01, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Gold still drawing the crowds

ALL THAT GLITTERS:The Gold Museum topped the New Taipei City Government’s list of the most visited attractions last year, ahead of the Tamsui Historical Museum

By Kuo Yen-hui, Weng Yu-huang and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

A woman poses next to a pottery horse’s head on sale at the Yingge Ceramics Museum in New Taipei City on Friday last week.

Photo: Kuo Yen-hui, Taipei Times

The allure of gold seens to captivate young and old visitors alike, as the New Taipei City (新北市) Government reported that the Gold Museum in the city’s Ruifang District (瑞芳) is one of the most popular attractions in the north of the nation.

According to a report by the city government’s Cultural Affairs Department, the Gold Museum, as of Wednesday last week, topped the city’s attractions with 1.67 million visitors, followed by the Tamsui Historical Museum with 1.45 million visitors and the Yingge Ceramics Museum with 1.04 million visitors last year.

Besides the top three museums, the department also oversees the Shihsanhang Museum of Archeology, the Pinglin Tea Museum and the Lin Family Mansion and Garden.

All the museums and historic sites used to charge a NT$100 (US$3.35) admission fee for adults, but that was abolished in January 2010 and since then visitor numbers have increased steadily.

The Gold Museum manitained its place as the No. 1 attraction after it drew 1.02 million visitors in 2010, 1.16 million in 2011 and 1.65 million in 2012, according to the department’s data.

“The Tamsui Historical Museum and the Yingge Ceramics Museum remain highly popular. They have had more than 1 million visitors over the past few years,” department official Lee Wen (李玟) said.

“The Pinglin Tea Museum had 40,000 more visitors last year [than the previous year], while visitors to the Shihsanhang Museum of Archeology in Bali District (八里) increased by 35,000 over 2012. It is likely due to the city government actively promoting tourism to Pinglin (坪林鄉) and Bali districts, helping to raise the publicity and visibility of these two regions,” he added.

Lee said there is no plan to go back to admission fees.

“Museums are cultural and educational institutions. They require major public-sector investment and their management objectives are not based on profit. They attract a lot of visitors, which in turn stimulates the local economy. Our conservative estimates show that after abolishing admission fees, we have made a net gain of NT$2.8 billion in terms of income from cultural tourism and derived businesses. This amount has exceeded the cost of construction of the museums,” he said.

The department said most of the costs of running the city’s museums are spent on wages, sales and marketing, facilities, new investment, project subsidies and grants.

To offset the loss of income from admission fees, the museums have generated extra revenue through the sale of merchandise and creative culture products, Lee said.

“To date, they have produced more than 8,600 different types of merchandise, which have earned an estimated NT$200 million,” Lee said.

“Each museum’s creative cultural products have their own special style and quality,” Lee said, adding that the Gold Museum’s “Gold Brick” USB memory stick is a popular gift during the Lunar New Year holiday.

The Yingge Ceramics Museum’s “Ceramic Stick Popsicle” is also popular, as the reusable stick can be taken home and used for mixing drinks.

The Shihsanhang Museum of Archeology has a set of metal coins with cultural relic designs, which are an attractive souvenir for many visitors.

A stylized butterfly with a “good fortune” symbol on a “Bookmark Popsicle” is a favored item at the Lin Family Mansion and Garden, he said.

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