The Ministry of Culture on Oct. 17 officially launched the website "Taiwan Cultural Memory Bank," which is designed to preserve and promote local knowledge and offer the public a free access to Taiwan's rich heritage.
"Taiwan Cultural Memory Bank" is part of the "Taiwan Cultural Memory Bank and Digital Value-Added Application Program" initiated in 2017. Proposed and anchored by the Ministry, the program aims to foster the preservation, publicizing, and utilization of the nation's cultural heritage via digital technology.
Through the Taiwan Cultural Memory Bank, the Ministry seeks to gather regional memories to map out Taiwan's cultural DNA, coordinate efforts of the public as well as private sectors in the construction of local knowledge, shape and form national identity, and foster value-added applications of culture-themed contents.
Based on the fruitful results of previously-launched National Digital Archives Program, the virtual bank will implement step by step the optimization, publicizing and utilization of museum collections.
To make cultural assets more approachable, easy to comprehend, and resonate with the public, the publicly accessible database also serves as a platform to promote public participation in the preservation of local knowledge and collective memories and to offer diverse perspectives and interpretations of the history of different ethnic groups.
Since September 2017, the Ministry has teamed up with 22 county and city governments, 117 private organizations, 18 central and inter-ministerial bodies, and 12 Ministry-affiliated museums to promote the Taiwan Cultural Memory Bank and Digital Value-Added Application Program.
To date, a total of more than 2.7 million data items have been collected and are available on the website, including renowned glove puppeteer Chen Hsi-huang's (陳錫煌) life and career, "National Living Treasure" Yang Xiu-qing's (楊秀卿) performance of Taiwanese vocal tradition liam kua (唸歌), a form of ballad singing and oral storytelling.
Coordinated by public and private sectors, the program has also seen the digitalization of the "Taiwan Hero (諸葛四郎)" comic series and a total of 1,749 manuscripts by veteran Hakka artist Yeh Hong-jia (葉宏甲). The comic series collection project was accompanied by a public fundraising event to publish the reprints of the extremely popular comic series in Taiwan in the 60s and 70s.
Additionally, the 2017 program resulted in preservation of Taipei-themed photographs and stories, including ones that capture the Chunghua shopping mall, a landmark in downtown Taipei in the 70s and 80s which was torn down completely in 1992.
Apart from a digital museum introducing endemic plants in Taiwan, public-sector initiatives include online platform Taiwan Story (臺灣小故事101), which sheds light on histories of ethnic groups in the country and local arts and literature, fostering the public knowledge of Taiwan's cultural subjectivity.
Launched on Taiwan Culture Day (臺灣文化日), the website preserves portraits of ordinary people living in the great epochs in Taiwanese history, exceptional craftsmanship practiced by cultural heritage preservers, literary giants' handwritten manuscripts, and creations by Taiwanese veteran artists.
As historic recollections and documentation is a race against time, the Ministry invites the public to make the best use of the digital age to discover, record and construct Taiwan's collective memories, and thereby offer a fertile ground for the nation's cultural development.
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