The One Bear Museum in Hsinchu County’s Guansi Township (關西), a teddy bear museum once touted by the county government as a “luminous pearl” along Provincial Highway No. 13, is facing possible closure.
The museum’s building, which was provided by the county government, has a serious water leakage problem and lacks a parking lot for buses to bring in tour groups, Hsinchu County Councilor Lo Shih-shi (羅仕琦) said on Saturday.
The county government should step in to rescue the museum, or the negative reviews about the museum on the Internet might affect visitors’ impression of the township and the county, he said.
Photo: Huang Mei-chu, Taipei Times
The building used to be an illegal construction that served as a recreational center for farmers, Lo said.
The county government later legalized the building and the museum was opened about two years ago. It is said to be the largest teddy bear museum in Asia, he added.
However, as the building is old, it has problems, including water leakage, frequent elevator malfunctions, falling tiles from the ceiling and exposed steel reinforcing bars in the walls, causing safety concerns among visitors, he said.
Museum general manager Chou Hua-wen (周華文) said he was fond of the building’s large space and invested more than NT$40 million (US$1.33 million at the current exchange rate) to establish the museum.
He had expected that it would attract about 15,000 to 18,000 visitors per month, but it only attracted 4,000 to 7,000 visitors per month, Chou said.
The reasons for low visitor numbers include water leakage, facility malfunction and nearby parking lots always being occupied, he said.
The management has been reluctant to promote the museum for fear that it might lead to more negative reviews, he said, adding that travel agencies were also concerned about receiving complaints if they promoted the museum to their clients.
The county government last year started tackling the building’s 32 water leaks, with seven or eight spots still in need of repairs, Chou said.
The museum had not anticipated the COVID-19 outbreak, which has caused visitor numbers to fall by more than 90 percent, he said.
The museum’s revenue fell from NT$3 million per month to a total of NT$4 million in the past four months, Chou said, adding that although the nation’s COVID-19 situation is now under control, the museum’s water leakage and parking problems remain, and he would be forced to close the museum if they cannot be solved.
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