Tainan museum eyes free admission

By Tsai Wen-chu and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Sun, Jan 20, 2013 - Page 3

Visitors may enjoy free admission to the new Chi Mei Museum in the Tainan Metropolitan Park in Greater Tainan’s Rende District (仁德) next year at the earliest, if the second round of business solicitation for the project via the reconstruction-operation-transfer (ROT) model goes as planned, the Greater Tainan Government’s Cultural Affairs Bureau said recently.

With the construction of the European-style museum scheduled to be completed later this year, the bureau on Thursday launched a second round of business solicitation for the site, in accordance with the Act for Promotion of Private Participation in Infrastructure Projects (促進民間參與公共建設法). The first round last year attracted only one company — the Chi Mei Cultural Foundation.

According to the foundation’s proposal in the first business invitation process, it plans to make all exhibitions free of charge to the public, except for feature exhibitions. The site’s other sources of revenue would be souvenirs and food sales.

The museum was built with funding of nearly NT$2 billion (US$68.88 million) provided by the Chi Mei Corporation, but was constructed on a plot of land owned by the Greater Tainan Government.

As part of its efforts to contribute to society, the company officially donated the building to the city government on Thursday.

The conglomerate already owns the original Chi Mei Museum at its Tainan headquarters in the same district. The Chi Mei Museum boasts more than 10,000 exhibits and entrance has been free since its establishment in 1992.

The director of the city’s Cultural Affairs Bureau, Yeh Tse-shan (葉澤山), said that since Chi Mei Group founder Hsu Wen-lung (許文龍) had expressed hopes that the admission to the new museum would also be free of charge, as the firm’s way of contributing to the wellbeing of Tainan residents, the Chi Mei Cultural Foundation would most likely win the contract if no better operation proposal is submitted before the solicitation process concludes on Feb. 28.

Yeh said the new museum could be opened to the public early next year, if the contract is signed before April this year and construction is completed by May.

He added that the winner would be in charge of maintenance and management of both the new site and the metropolitan park.

A bureau official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the foundation’s proposal to operate the museum without charging admission risks putting it under a great financial burden, as the operating and maintenance costs for the museum and the park could be substantial.

“Only those who are dedicated to society would take up such an unprofitable business,” the official said, adding that there could be no other contenders for the 50-year contract.