The National Taiwan Museum has been commissioned to receive and preserve cultural artifacts from the presidential and vice presidential collection. Upon transfer from Academia Historica, these artifacts will soon be displayed for the public to enjoy.
With the 2004 passage of the ROC Presidential and Vice Presidential Records and Artifacts Act (總統副總統文物管理條例), Academia Historica was entrusted with the task of managing important items bestowed to the ROC's presidents and vice presidents for the past 14 years.
Among the items transferred to Academia Historica from the Office of the President, government agencies, private individuals, and organizations, about 15% are classified as artifacts. The majority of these transferred items — which number over 10,000 — were gifts.
Most of these gifts were presented to the president by diplomats or private individuals, and they come in all shapes, sizes, and materials, each needing to be kept in its own particular kind of environment for preservation. With limited space and resources, Academia Historica has found it increasingly challenging to properly look after this diverse and growing collection.
To address this, Academia Historica began preparing an amendment to the Act in 2017, adding a new article stating that the competent authority entrusted with the care of presidential and vice presidential items may appoint other agencies or organizations to assist in the task.
With the amendment passed, Academia Historica is now able to transfer items to the collections of other specialists, building partnerships with government departments and making use of the space and technical know-how available at similar institutions.
Academia Historica is now able to tap into the equipment and manpower of partners such as the National Taiwan Museum — one of Taiwan's preeminent museums of natural history, with expertise in anthropology, geology, botany, zoology, and cultural heritage — for the research into, exhibition of, and public use of presidential items as well.
Through a new partnership between Academia Historica and the National Taiwan Museum, museum researchers from each of the aforementioned departments have selected a total of 82 items that fit with their collections, and these items have been entrusted to them for preservation and use.
Six of these items were on display at a press conference held at the museum on May 17. Grouped by research field, they are: under anthropology, a ceremonial staff from the Tao people and a royal beaded veceqel necklace from the Paiwan people; under earth sciences, a Priscacara fossil and a framed mother-of-pearl gift from the Republic of Kiribati; and under zoology, a taxidermied leopard and the shell of a sea turtle.
Academia Historica plans to cooperate with other museums in the future to ensure these presidential and vice presidential artifacts will be transferred to institutions where they will receive the best care. Through such partnerships, these artifacts will no longer be locked away, but instead, put on display in museums for the public to enjoy.
A taxidermied leopard and the shell of a sea turtle.
A Priscacara fossil, royal beaded "veceqel" necklace from the Paiwan people, and a framed mother-of-pearl gift from the Republic of Kiribati.
A ceremonial staff from the Tao people.
National Taiwan Museum Director Hung Shih-yu (left) and Academia Historica President Wu Mi-cha.