Private museum hoping Museum Act can support a bright future

2019/08/05 21:16:36 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
K.C. Chen (left) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲)

K.C. Chen (left) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲)

Taipei, Aug. 5 (CNA) One of Taiwan's first private museums to be registered under the country's Museum Act received its official certification Monday, and its founder hoped at the ceremony that the program will offer the assistance private museums need to thrive.

K.C. Chen, executive director of Museum 207, a private museum founded in a Taipei government-designated "historic building," praised the Museum Act at the ceremony for taking into consideration private museums, which are generally housed in rehabilitated old structures.

"The museum law in fact was a very welcome change and very important to the development of museums in Taiwan," she told CNA after accepting Museum 207's official paperwork as a private museum.

"This law actually represents the government's participation in private museums. They will provide the resources we need through this certification process," Chen said.

The Museum Act became law in 2015 and was aimed at promoting the development of museums and to expose more people to culture, history, science, nature, and the arts and humanities.

After Museum 207 was established in 2017, it became the first museum in Taipei to apply for official certification as a private museum under the act to gain access to government funding and other resources.

Twenty months later on June 27, Museum 207 received its official certification and held a ceremony to celebrate that on Monday.

"I hope that in the future private museums, especially those converted from old houses, from the time they are converted, their architectural stage to their construction, their renovation stage, they will have the benefit of the government's assistance so that everything is done right," Chen said.

She also hoped that the government will support the operations of private museums through the program.

K.C. Chen (back, right) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲, front)

Fionn Wu (吳佩郁), a section chief in Museum 207's administrative department, said being registered under the act gives the museum two main advantages -- tax breaks and, more importantly, funding from either the central or city government for specific exhibitions.

Having just obtained official certification, Wu said Museum 207 has not yet applied for subsidies, but she estimated that in the future the government could provide up to 70 percent of the funding needed for specific shows.

Wu said the process will also be more direct and efficient than the current system, in which the central government gives funds to local governments which then divide that up among different exhibitions in the community, a "big circle" that can take a while to navigate.

Article 7 of the Museum Act commits the government to providing professional advice, technical assistance, personnel training programs, and financial grants to both public and private museums.

Chen argued the private museums such as hers are culturally important because they help visitors relive the past and appreciate older values, such as in the museum's current "Taste of Summer Exhibition."

Being held until Dec. 15, the exhibition shows how Taiwanese spent their summers when there was no air conditioning, Chen said.

"The ice shops of the past were the predecessors of the current Starbucks and coffee shops. But a main difference is that the ice houses in the past is where the whole family would go, but would you go to Starbucks with your family?" she said.

"So it also represents a social change in family relations, and we would like to bring people back to that stage and cherish what has gone by."

At Monday's ceremony, Deputy Culture Minister Kevin Peng (彭俊亨) praised Chen for getting Museum 207 registered under the Museum Act and for her commitment to promoting culture, such as founding the Taipei Story House, which curates exhibitions on the history of Taipei.

According to the Ministry of Culture, the other private museums around Taiwan that have been registered to date under the Museum Act are the Museum of World Religions in New Taipei and the Lin family Mansion and Garden in Wufeng in Taichung.

K.C. Chen (back, left) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲, back, second left)

(By William Yen)
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