Sat, Jan 03, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Tainan’s new Chimei museum opens with focus on Western art

Staff writer, with CNA

Visitors gather outside the new Chimei Museum in Greater Tainan on Thursday.

Photo: Lin Meng-ting, Taipei Times

The new Chimei Museum in southern Greater Tainan opened on Thursday, with exhibits featuring Western paintings and sculptures, musical instruments, ancient weapons and animal fossils.

Visitors packed the main building — a 40,000m3 white European-style structure at Tainan Metropolitan Park — while a choir sang in the main hall during the official opening ceremony.

The museum is currently displaying between 6,000 and 7,000 items, roughly half of its entire collection.

Some of the most valuable pieces include Saint Martin and the Beggar, a 16th-century painting by Spanish artist El Greco; the bronze sculpture Theseus Slaying the Centaur Bianor created by French sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye in 1860; and a 1907 bronze version of The Kiss by French sculptor Auguste Rodin.

A 16th-century violin made by Italian Luthier Andrea Amati and a stuffed polar bear are also among the outstanding displays.

The Chimei Museum has one of the largest collections of violins in the world, as well as significant collections of ancient weapons and Western paintings and sculptures.

The building itself, which took four years to build, is an eye-catching structure with a European-style design.

In the forecourt is a replica of the Fountain of Apollo, which depicts the Greek sun god Apollo rising from the sea at daybreak in his four-horse chariot. The original sculpture was created by the French artist Jean-Baptiste Tuby (1635-1700) for the palace of Versailles.

Between the main structure and the fountain is a bridge lined on both sides with statues of 12 gods and goddesses from Greek mythology.

Chi Mei Group founder Hsu Wen-lung (許文龍), an art and music lover, established the Chi Mei Cultural Foundation in 1977 to collect artworks and artifacts from around the world.

In 1992, the Chimei Museum was established at the Tainan headquarters of plastics producer Chi Mei Corp. Over the years the museum has expanded its collection and now has over 13,000 objects, mainly pieces of Western art, musical instruments, weaponry and animal specimens.

All of the objects are set to be transferred to the new venue, which was built at a cost of about NT$2 billion (US$63.11 million).

In November last year, Hsu said that as a child he used to visit a small museum, and later realized that artistic and cultural resources were scarce in southern Taiwan.

He vowed then to establish a museum that would be accessible for everyone, he said, adding that the items exhibited in the Chimei Museum are easily accessible to the public.

Visitors to the museum are required to reserve tickets online at least one day in advance. A regular ticket price of NT$200 applies to non-Tainan residents, while residents of the city get in free. Students and individuals over 65 years are charged NT$150, while children under six and members of disadvantaged groups are also admitted free of charge.

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