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National Palace Museum southern branch attracts fewer visitors

2018/03/14 16:58:07

CNA file photo

Taipei, March 14 (CNA) The number of visitors to the National Palace Museum's (NPM) southern branch in Chiayi County, southern Taiwan, is undergoing a worrisome decline, which is likely to result in less than 800,000 visitors this year, lower than the target of 1 million a year.

NPM Director Lin Cheng-yi (林正儀) told lawmakers at a hearing of the legislative Education and Culture Committee Wednesday that the target number of visitors to the southern branch was determined before it opened in late 2015.

This year the museum will receive 780,000-800,000 visitors, Lin estimated when asked whether the NPM's southern branch would be able to meet the target this year.

Although the National Palace Museum in Taipei is one of Taiwan's most popular tourist attractions, the number of visitors to the southern branch has fallen from 1.47 million in 2016 to 970,000 last year, after being opened for public visits on a trial basis in December 2015, Lin had said in an interview with CNA last month.

The declining numbers have attracted the attentions of lawmakers, including Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, who said at the hearing he is concerned the national museum in Chiayi could become a white elephant.

In January the NPM southern branch received 45,000 visitors - an average of 1,500 a day - the smallest monthly total since it was opened, Huang said.

Lin proposed several strategies to resolve apparent public indifference, including relocating popular collections from the NPM in Taipei to the southern branch and organizing educational activities with local features.

In addition, as the southern branch focuses on Asian art and culture, another idea is to introduce a herb-dominated botanic garden with plants endemic to Asia as a place for local people to learn about exotic cultures, Lin suggested.

(By Fan Cheng-hsiang and Elizabeth Hsu)