Residents question museum plan

DAZHI DOUBTS::Local residents fear the museum expansion is really about companies turning the 4.8 hectare arts and performance area into a large cultural shopping center

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Sep 01, 2013 - Page 3

Residents of Taipei’s Dazhi District (大直) expressed concerns about the National Palace Museum’s expansion project during an information session on Friday evening.

The project, dubbed the Grand National Palace Museum Project (大故宮計畫), plans to expand the current 15.8 hectare total museum area by adding a new exhibition hall of about 2.2 hectares and an arts and performance area of about 4.8 hectares. The project was commissioned to CECI Engineering Consultants Inc in 2011.

At the session on its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, Museum Director Feng Ming-chu (馮明珠) said the rapidly growing numbers of visitors to the museum in recent years has led to insufficient public reception space, and that the repository and exhibition room is also not enough to hold the museum’s expanding collections.

The facilities, height and breadth of the exhibition rooms are also not up to modern standards, as the main hall was built in 1965 and cannot display the grandeur expected of one of the top museums in the world, she said, adding that therefore the expansion project is urgent and necessary.

Yet an alliance of residents in the nearby area, questioned why the new planned exhibition space of 6,600 ping (21,700m2) is only about 14.7 percent of the total planned expansion, while the 4.8 hectare arts and performance area is more than twice as large as the 2.2 hectare exhibition hall.

They added that they fear the main purpose of the expansion is in fact to benefit companies by allowing them to establish a cultural shopping center in the arts and performance area, and also fear that expanded exhibition space cannot resolve the true cause of crowding problems and poor visitor circulation.

The residents also raised questions about how the museum will deal with air pollution from the arts and performance area that the museum claims can support 220 parked buses at once, and whether the museum can guarantee that no flooding problems will be caused by the project.

The museum, in response, said the consultant company will take on board the residents concerns and further discuss the issues and solutions, to provide the best practical proposal for EIA review.