National Palace Museum director Wu Mi-cha (吳密察) yesterday said that he does not know an ideal location to store historical artifacts on the museum’s collection if a war broke out in Taiwan, but pledged to stipulate an evacuation plan within three months and hold a drill in July.
Wu attended a meeting at the Legislature’s Education and Culture Committee to brief lawmakers about the museum’s operations.
However, many lawmakers were concerned whether the museum has the personnel and protocols in place to move nearly 700,000 historical artifacts to a safe location in the event of a war, after seeing museum staff in Ukraine struggle to salvage historical objects following the Russian invasion.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wan Mei-ling (萬美玲) asked whether the museum has selected locations to store historical artifacts, considering that staff at the Andrey Sheptytsky National Museum of Lviv, Ukraine, are having problems finding a place to store nearly 12,000 historical objects that they removed from the museum.
Wan said that the National Palace Museum needs to be prepared to evacuate historical objects in an emergency situation, adding that it would be too late if the museum waits until then to react.
Wu said the rules governing a disaster and emergency response plan at the National Palace Museum mainly prepare the staff to respond to a flood, fire or an earthquake.
While the museum has been holding drills for various emergency situations, it has yet to hold drills for a war or airstrike, he said.
“The National Palace Museum has more than 690,000 historical objects. If we were to hold a drill for a scenario of a war or an air raid, we would need to first divide the objects into different categories, simulate the packaging of these objects and safely move them to designated locations. This is no small matter,” he added.
“Evacuating historical objects is much more complicated than evacuating people, and frankly I cannot think of any place to store them at the moment. National security officials might know some very safe locations, but we do not know whether those locations can safely preserve historical objects as we do at the National Palace Museum,” Wu said.
Wu pledged to spend the next three months establishing a wartime response task force and consulting national security officials about possible storage locations for historical artifacts.
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