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New Chimei Museum opens with huge display

2015/01/01 19:53:14

Taipei, Jan. 1 (CNA) The new Chimei Museum in the southern city of Tainan opened Thursday, displaying a rich collection of Western paintings and sculptures, musical instruments, ancient weapons and animal fossils.

Visitors packed the main building -- a 40,000 square-meter white European-style structure at Tainan Metropolitan Park – while a choir sang in the main hall during the official opening.

The museum currently is displaying 6,000-7,000 items, roughly half of its entire collection.

Some of the most valuable pieces include "Saint Martin and the Beggar," a 16th century painting by Spanish painter El Greco; a 1860 bronze sculpture "Theseus Slaying the Centaure Biénor" by French sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye; and a 1907 bronze version of "The Kiss" by French sculptor Auguste Rodin.


["Saint Martin and the Beggar" by El Greco. CNA photo Oct. 2, 2012]

A 16th century violin made by Italian Luthier Andrea Amati, and a polar bear specimen are also among the outstanding displays.

The Chimei Museum boasts one of the largest collections of violins in the world, and significant collections of ancient weapons and Western paintings and sculptures.

The building itself, which was under construction for four years, is an eye-catching structure that features a European-style design.

In the forecourt is a replica of the Fountain of Apollo, which depicts the Greek sun god Apollo rising from the sea at daybreak in his four-horse chariot. The original sculpture was carved by the famous French artist Jean-Baptiste Tuby (1635-1700) for the palace of Versailles.


[The Fountain of Apollo. CNA photo Nov. 2, 2014]

Between the main structure and the fountain is a bridge lined on both sides with statues of the 12 gods and goddesses in Greek mythology.

Chi Mei Group founder Hsu Wen-lung, an art and music lover, established the Chi Mei Cultural Foundation in 1977 to collect artworks and artifacts from around the world.

In 1992, the Chimei Museum was established at the Tainan headquarters of plastics producer Chi Mei Corp. Over the years the museum has expanded its collection and now has over 13,000 objects, mainly Western art, musical instruments, weaponry and animal specimens.


[CNA photo Jan. 1, 2015]

All of the objects will be transferred to the new venue, which was built at a cost of around NT$2 billion (US$63 million).

Hsu said last November that he used to visit a small museum when he was a child, and later realized that artistic and cultural resources were scarce in southern Taiwan.

He vowed then to establish a museum that would be accessible to everyone, he said, adding that the items exhibited in the Chimei Museum are easily accessible to the public.

Visitors to the museum are required to reserve tickets online at least one day in advance. Regular ticket price of NT$200 applies to non-Tainan residents.Tainan residents enjoy free admission. Students and over- 65-year olds need to pay NT$150 while children under 6 years of age and members of the less privileged groups are admitted free of charge.

(By Christie Chen and Chang Jung-hsiang)
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