The Taipei Cultural Assets Review Committee has designated the National Palace Museum building a historic building, but not a historic site.
A coalition of museum employees and nearby residents had petitioned the city to recognize the building as a historic site, citing that the younger Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall had been classified as such.
The museum, built in 1962, is more representative of the nation and is more historically significant than the memorial hall, and should receive the special designation, the coalition had argued.
Photo: Chen Yu-hsun, Taipei Times
However, the committee on Monday reached a different conclusion.
The memorial hall’s classification was based on designer Wang Ta-hung’s (王大閎) injection of a “modern feel” into classic architecture, which was a remarkable achievement in an era of authoritarianism, committee member Hsueh Chin-shou (薛琴受) said.
National Palace Museum designer Huang Pao-yu (黃寶瑜) also brought a modern aesthetic to a traditional form of architecture, but the execution lacked the spirit found in Wang’s work, she added.
“Huang duplicated the traditional vocabulary. Simply put: His work is reminiscent of the authoritarian era. He did exactly what [former president] Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) asked of him,” Hsueh said.
A historic site designation would not give the museum higher importance and only result in the building being more strictly managed, committee member Chiu Ju-hua (丘如華) said.
Any changes to its exhibition space would have to be reported, and it would be restricted in doing modifications, she added.
Coalition member Sung Hou-ling (宋后玲) said that classifying the museum as a historic site would help guarantee its protection.
She asked whether there were political considerations at play, impeding the museum’s classification as historic site.
People’s Front for Democracy director Chou Chia-chun (周佳君) said that the memorial hall had been designated a historic site due to political manipulation during the authoritarian era.
The movement to classify the museum as a historic site was a civic one, and not politically motivated, he said.
The museum’s main hall had already been registered as a historic building, but its other buildings — including the administration buildings, storehouse and workers’ dorms — were never registered, the committee said.
The committee had previously discussed canceling the museum’s status as a cultural site, but cultural preservationist Hsiao Wen-chieh (蕭文杰) urged the committee not to do so, saying that land developers would surround the museum with high rises, destroying the view.
The coalition said the museum’s property was of historic importance as it was the site of a gathering of distinguished academics hosted by late former museum deputy director Chuang Yan (莊嚴), as well as the site of a stone inscription from the Japanese colonial period.
The committee said that the meeting and the inscription occurred on private property and not on the museum’s grounds, adding that it is to further discuss the scope of the area covered by the museum’s cultural site classification.
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