The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Research Week - Old is New: the marketing scheme in the National Palace Museum, Taipei

Chungju Lin (Ahluah) gets the morning off to a great start by presenting a case study based around her research into the integration of museums into everyday life and culture - a really interesting topic, if I might interject, and one which Ahluah shows to be really powerful.

The 'Old is New' project ran at the National Palace Museum in Taipei with the aim of showing the public how relevant the museum was to their daily lives. The National Palace Museum has an interesting history, deeply tied into the political and military situation which manifested in Asia in the early part of the twentieth century. The collection it houses is actually a National Collection of China, and came to Taiwan for its own safety in 1948. Though there are 650, 000 items in the collection, nothing was broken or lost in the transition. At that time, the storage was thought to be temporary, so it was not until the 1960s that the museum was built. It would become a symbol of the revival of Chinese culture in Taiwan after the Japanese occupation.

It is now recognised that the collection shall most likely never return to China, though this had been suggested in the past. The 'Old is New' scheme was intended to connect this cultural institution to the daily life of the Taiwanese population, and provide some promotion of Taiwanese identity. It used the media to integrate the collection into modern life, through pop videos and advertising - there's a great clip which Ahluah shows which uses the iconography of this jadite 'Cabbage with Insects' to advertise...well, cabbage. It's a very clever double ploy - the Jadite peice is very famous in Taiwan, but bok choi cabbage is something that is a common item of daily life.

Integrating these collections into Taiwanese society requires a focus upon something other than their inherent 'Chineseness'. They did this through focussing upon the artistry of the peices - there's a fantastic animation which shows peices from the collection as live characters exploring the space.

'Old is New' has, as a project, now ended. There is a new government, and a new relationship between Taiwan the the PROC. There is more dialogue, and more tourism between the two countries. But one thing that Ahluah, and I, hope will never change, is the creative thought and passion which lies behind integrating the collection into everyday society. It's a rarity, in this world. Thanks, Ahluah, for showing it to us and opening our eyes. And well done for going first!!!

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