Taiwan’s National Palace Museum (NPM) is not ruling out collaborating with the museums in Beijing and Hong Kong if both sides of the Strait can approach cross-strait issues “more wisely,” museum director Hsiao Tsung-huang (蕭宗煌) said on Friday.
The Palace Museum in Beijing, the Hong Kong Palace Museum, and the NPM have different developmental directions and goals, but ultimately “we’re all working hard to preserve the cultural artifacts of the Huaxia (華夏) culture,” Hsiao told the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) in an exclusive interview.
“We do not have certain ideologies. Absolutely not,” he said, adding that he is very much looking forward to the day that the palace museums in Beijing, Taiwan and Hong Kong could work together and jointly curator an exhibition.
Photo: Ling Mei-hsueh, Taipei Times
Hsiao said that since the collection of artifacts was relocated to Taiwan in 1948-1949, it has largely been incorporated as part of Taiwanese culture, and that incorporation began when “our past textbooks normalized the visitation of the National Palace Museum.”
The National Palace Museum Southern Branch is an example of Taiwanese society’s acceptance of its exhibitions, he said.
The southern branch was initially designated as a museum of Asia, and planned to feature mainly works from other parts of the continent, while avoiding exhibiting works from the museum’s northern branch, Hsiao said, adding that government officials and Chiayi County locals wanted to see works from the northern branch.
“It might be difficult for art, culture or museums to remain uninfluenced by politics, but they are fundamentally different things,” he said.
While the museum greatly suffered from a lack of tourists during the COVID-19 pandemic, it achieved the goal of attracting 1 million visitors to each branch this month, Hsiao said.
The museums are hosting a series of exhibitions in the second half of the year, including a culture and art exhibition about the Age of Exploration and an ancient bronze weapons exhibition in December, he said.
From Jan. 1 to early last month, the northern branch of the museum had had about 800,000 visitors, he said, adding that the museum on average receives about 100,000 visitors per month.
The museum administration makes a great effort to maximize the interest of younger visitors and encourage them to visit the two branches, Hsiao said.
Giving Northern Song Dynasty (960 to 1127) piece Travelers Among Mountains and Streams (谿山行旅圖) by Fan Kuan as an example, Hsiao said children would only see it as “a dark blob” and quickly lose interest.
The museum introduced a digital exhibition feature, in which visitors can view the work and have a bird’s eye view of the mountains and the travelers on the mountain paths, which might greatly increase children’s interest in revisiting the art piece, he said.
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