Taiwan’s first “taxi museum” opened on Saturday last week in Yilan County’s Suao Township (蘇澳), with a temporary exhibition that runs through Aug. 9.
The museum was created by Lee Chi-cheng (李濟成), who has been collecting taxi-related items for almost two decades.
Lee, who recently moved to Yilan, said he began collecting taxi-themed items during a 2000 trip to New York City, where he spotted a toy taxi with a license plate that included his birthday, Oct. 9 — NYC-1009.
After his collection grew, Lee decided to open a museum.
He initially considered establishing it on Okinawa, Japan, thinking it would be a better location, but later decided to buy an old warehouse in Suao and convert it.
The purchase was his 50th birthday gift to himself, Lee said.
Among the items from his collection on display are five taxis — a 1957 Mercedes Benz 180, a 1962 Datsun Bluebird 312, a 1967 Austin FX4, a 1972 Checker Marathon and a 1988 Yue Loong Sunny 303 — from different parts of the world, and 2,000 other items ranging from model cars and license plates to taxi meters he brought from Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, the UK and the US.
There are also some auto rickshaws, like the ones used in Taiwan in the 1950s, as well as three generations of Nissan Bluebird vehicles from Japan.
“Anything with the image of a taxi on it I buy up like a crazed collector,” he said.
Lee said he has bought Starbucks’ “city” mugs and women’s fashion items just because they have images of taxis on them.
“A taxi is like a city’s ‘business card.’ If a picture of a city has a taxi in it, you can tell what city it is and what decade the picture was taken,” he said.
Lee said he hoped that families would visit the museum, and he installed the shelving lower than normal to ensure that children would be able to easily see the exhibits.
A conveyor belt similar to those used in sushi restaurants circulate model taxi cars through the museum, he said.
Lee said he hoped the museum would help boost the stature of taxi drivers, giving them more confidence and encouraging them to improve service.
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