Ghastly exhibition paralyzes museum ticket sales due to huge crowds

06/25/2022 10:32 PM
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CNA photo June 25, 2022
CNA photo June 25, 2022

Tainan, June 24 (CNA) Opening day ticket sales for a horror exhibition at the Tainan Art Museum were suspended twice on Saturday due to the show attracting so much more visitors than expected that it caused overcrowding.

Titled "Ghosts and Hells: The underworld in Asian art," the exhibition has attracted both positive and negative attention in Taiwan.

After photos of the exhibits depicting elements and creatures from the Asian occult such as Thai ghouls, Japanese spirits, and Chinese reanimated corpses appeared in Taiwanese media, many Christian groups expressed opposition to the show for displaying subjects which they found blasphemous, while some devotees of Taiwan's religious traditions also criticized the exhibition for overstepping the boundaries of superstition.

The exhibition is the Taiwan version of a show that was originally put up in the Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac in Paris, France, planned and curated by Julien Rousseau.

"The Painting of Ten Kings of Hades" from the National Museum of Taiwan History
"The Painting of Ten Kings of Hades" from the National Museum of Taiwan History's collection. Photo courtesy of Tainan Art Museum

However, at the exhibition's opening on Saturday, crowds flooded to the Tainan Art Museum, causing it to suspend ticket sales twice during the day.

Before it opened at 10 a.m., the museum said a long waiting line had already formed outside the entrance.

Within an hour after doors opened, over 1,000 people had entered the show with their tickets, said the museum.

By noon, 3,000 physical and virtual tickets had been sold while the museum had over 4,000 visitors.

However, with the museum only able to accommodate 50 people in each of the four exhibition rooms for the show, the actual exhibition itself could only contain a maximum of 200 people.

The overcrowding led to the museum suspending physical and online ticket sales of the exhibition at noon.

Although tickets became available once again by 3:30 p.m., ticket sales were once again halted within an hour as crowds continued to pour into the museum to catch a glimpse of the ghastly exhibits.

Tickets once again saw brisk sales when sales reopened at 6 p.m. for the evening showing between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The museum then announced that it would no longer allow people to enter by 7:15 p.m. due to demand remaining high, with the total number of people who visited the first day of the show calculated to be 6,861.

The museum even imposed a time limit for Exhibition Room H which houses three statues that have since become the show's poster boys in promos.

The statues are three reanimated corpses in Qing Dynasty clothing known as Jiangsi (殭屍).

The creature is also considered to be both a Chinese vampire and zombie due to it having attributes of both.

The Jiangsi gained widespread popularity in the early 1980s after popular Hong Kong director Sammo Hung (洪金寶) included it into his self-created genre of Kung Fu-Fantasy-Comedy films which he tailored for his friend, late action star Lam Ching-ying (林正英).

The genre's popularity led to productions in both Hong Kong and Taiwan, with Japan at one point importing movies from both countries due to popular demand.

Lucky charms blessed by a local temple are offered to visitors to the exhibition.

In response to the popularity of the show, museum staff said that the number of people who went to the show was way beyond what they expected.

Several show attendees also said that the ghastly exhibits were actually cute, and that they were works of art that did not deserve criticism.

Nonetheless, the museum still prepared 1,000 protective charms from the Tiantan Tiangong Temple to give out to show attendees.

Even Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) took to Facebook to announce that the museum was giving away charms for those who required them.

The museum went on to implore interested visitors to curb their enthusiasm as the show runs from June 25 to Oct. 16.

(By Chang Jung-hsiang and James Lo)

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