The Taipei-based National Taiwan Museum (NTM) held a press conference on May 18 to honor its latest group of artifact donors as part of its 111th anniversary celebrations on International Museum Day. Hung Shih-yu (洪世佑), director of the museum, elaborated on how the NTM innovates itself by raising its profile through inter-museum cooperation, creating added value for artifacts in its collection, and organizing multilingual guided tours for international visitors.
The conference was attended by Vice Minister of Culture Lee Lien-chuan (李連權); Hsu Wang (許王), the arts director of Hsiao Hsi Yuan Puppet Theater (小西園) who is recognized as a living national treasure of Taiwan; professors Lee Hong-hsi (李鴻禧), Yang Wei-che (楊維哲), and Chen Jin-tze (陳金次) of National Taiwan University, who jointly engineered the establishment of Society Seden (西田社布袋戲基金會); and Chen Rong-hsian (陳榮祥), chairman of the society.
Foreign dignitaries included Palauan Ambassador to the Republic of China Dilmei L. Olkeriil and Representative Sergey Petrov of the Moscow-Taipei Coordination Commission on Economic and Cultural Cooperation, who both attended the event to learn more about traditional Taiwanese culture.
Of the museum's precious century-old treasures, many were donations from the private sector. For example, Society Seden has donated 2,616 pieces of artifacts to the museum so far this year, including a precious stage, puppets, costumes, and accessories, in the hope of better preservation and more future applications.
After completing the tallying, documenting, de-pesting, and packing of these artifacts with the help of masters of traditional arts and their teams, NTM held the May 18 ceremony to honor the donors by arranging a glove puppetry show on a special wooden stage that was finished with intricate engravings by sculptor Chen Mao-hsiung (陳茂雄) and evaluated at nearly NT$1 million. The stage was first used in 1985 at the opening ceremony of Society Seden, with master puppeteers Hsu and Li Tian-lu (李天祿) leading the show.
As part of its 111th anniversary celebrations, NTM also invited all of its foreign volunteers to lead guided tours of the museum and its affiliated exhibition halls, which were renovated from historic sites such as camphor factories and Japanese-era buildings.
As important cultural hubs, museums should place equal emphasis on their artifacts and staff members. In recent years, NTM has successfully drawn around 10% more overseas visitors with its international docent program, which recruits new immigrants and foreign students to help introduce Taiwan's cultural wealth through their respective native languages. Guided tours are now available in the 14 languages of Cantonese, English, Filipino, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese.
NTM also rolled out English, Japanese, Korean, and Mandarin Chinese editions of its guided tour app last year, with plans to add Hakka, Indonesian, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, and sign-language options this year, so more visitors can learn more about Taiwan's oldest museum.