The National Photography Center, a highly anticipated project within Taiwan’s cultural and arts community, has finally found a home. The Ministry of Culture spent over a year looking for a suitable public space that was not already in use. The quarters have been found at a Directorate General of Highways-owned, municipal-level historic site across from the Taipei Main Train Station.
Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai:
We have been looking for over a year for a right location for the photography center without knowledge of the DGH’s building. So when the information emerged and we got hold of it, I myself was ecstatic and felt like I found real treasure.
Photography is a focal point in our nation’s collective memories. It is kept in our hearts. However, photography has not been highly valued by the visual arts sector. Instead, many photos are randomly stored in different public agencies.
From national memories to cultural landmark
The longstanding building with a yellowish-brown exterior is already part of the Taiwanese people’s collective memories, accumulated through each time they walk past the train station. It will become the country’s first public photography-based cultural center after revitalization. The facility will compile national memories through photography and the historic building is set to take on a brand-new role in the nation’s cultural sphere.
Architect Hsueh Chin:
Oftentimes when we investigate a historic site, the first thing to look for is written and visual documentation. The latter serves as the most essential basis for future revitalization or renovation efforts.
Professor Wang Huey-jiun:
Photography itself is an artistic style developed throughout the process of modernization. So the building is suited to be re-used and the new purpose really fits with the building’s original style and features.
Architect Ray Chen:
As I checked the space, I came up with a rough idea. I think the building’s size is just right and of course there needs to be cafes and things like that, as well as areas that will allow it to become more spacious. I believe the building actually has the conditions to become a very good exhibition space.
A race against time
Taiwan’s precious photo assets are in the hands of different public agencies, private sectors, families, and individuals. Through the establishment of the photography center, the Ministry hopes to carefully store the files that would otherwise gradually wear away with time.