Control Yuan finds NPM negligent in artifact safekeeping duties
Taipei, Nov. 16 (CNA) The Control Yuan, the watchdog arm of the government, on Thursday approved a raft of proposed corrective measures against the National Palace Museum (NPM) after the museum was found to have been negligent in its artifact safekeeping, managerial and supervising duties.
Three Control Yuan members initiated an investigation into the NPM, which has been under fire for a number of incidents in which priceless artifacts were broken and high-resolution images of pieces from its collection found to have been sold online.
The case dates back to October last year when local media revealed that three porcelain pieces in the museum's collection had been broken. The museum chose not to officially record the breakages at the time, which led to accusations of a cover-up by senior staff.
The Control Yuan members stated in their investigation report, issued Thursday, that the most important mission of the NPM, with a collection of 700,000 Chinese artifacts and artworks, is preservation and artifact management.
However, on Feb. 3, 2021 and Apr. 7, 2022, while staff members were organizing artifacts, they discovered that a Ming dynasty "yellow teacup with two green dragons" and a Qing dynasty "yellow teacup with dragon pattern" had been damaged.
In addition, in May 2022, a Qing dynasty "blue-and-white floral plate" fell and broke due to staff mishandling.
It was found that the working space of the museum warehouse was filled with improperly stacked materials, posing a serious risk to the safety of staff as well as artifacts and artworks. As a result, artifacts fell and were damaged due to human negligence, the Control Yuan members said in the investigation statement.
After an on-site inspection, Control Yuan members found the environmental conditions in the museum's storage facility to be poor and suggested the NPM reference advanced management and preservation methods employed for cultural artifacts at domestic and foreign museums.
They also suggested accelerating the updating of warehouse equipment and improving preservation and management measures so that precious artifacts can be properly preserved, according to the statement.
In addition, given that the NPM has fewer than 20 workers tasked with the maintenance of the nearly 700,000 artifacts and artworks in its collection, there is an apparent shortage of manpower at the museum, the Control Yuan members said in the statement, urging the museum to come up with countermeasures to address the issues raised.
Moreover, between December 2021 and June 2022, at least 30,000 high-resolution images from the museum's collection were leaked, the statement said.
It added that even though the NPM received a tip-off as early as June 13, 2022, it did not report the case to authorities in accordance with the Cyber Security Management Act until after the matter was revealed by the media on March 14 this year.
In addition to proposing corrective measures against the museum, the investigation report also instructed the Executive Yuan to better supervise the NPM, one of its subordinate agencies, and urged it to make improvements.
In response, the NPM said in a statement late Thursday that it will humbly review its shortcomings and pragmatically make improvements.
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