"The Cultural Heritage of Taiwan: Diversity and Transformation” - the first UK exhibition showcasing Taiwanese cultural heritage - will open on Oct. 17 at the European Research Institute of the University of Birmingham and run through Nov. 20.
Co-organized by the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage and the Cultural Division of the Taipei Representative Office in the UK, the month-long exhibition will challenge preconceived notions about Taiwan and explore the island's diverse past - from the remnants of prehistoric settlements to modern industrial sites and contemporary landscapes.
Over the centuries, Taiwan (better known then as Formosa) was colonized in various measures by the Chinese, Spanish, Dutch, and Japanese. The island is also home to sixteen tribes of indigenous peoples. Each encounter and exchange that has taken place over the centuries has left its mark on the landscape, the built environment, and the people, giving rise to a rich tapestry of tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
Taiwan's cultural heritage is a valuable reminder of how diverse and complex the past can be and how it plays a role in shaping present identities. Each heritage site, each building, and each tradition is a reminder of past transformations in the environment, economy, society, and culture. Each site is also an opportunity to examine how humanity can create new, valued, and meaningful heritage for its future.
The exhibition has also been curated to illustrate some of the issues that surround heritage preservation and interpretation and how these are being addressed. It is not meant to be wholly comprehensive or representative, but rather an overview of what Taiwan has to offer and a glimpse into how today's society is dealing with the reminders and remainders of the past and how communities are using their heritage to shape their future.
What to preserve, what not to preserve, how to preserve, and how to manage are all questions that are frequently raised across the nation. To engage with heritage is also to engage with questions of identity; not just in the historical sense but in terms of how the people of Taiwan see their role in the world, and how they see the future.
The opening ceremony on Oct. 17 will be accompanied by a lecture by guest speaker Professor Shuenn-Ren Liou (劉舜仁), vice dean of the College of Planning and Design at National Chung Kung University in Tainan.
‘The Cultural Heritage of Taiwan: Diversity & Transformation'