Confucius says: If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.
Mr Wen-Long Shi is the founder of the Chimei Museum. As a child he was a keen visitor to museums and as an adult and successful businessman he has established the largest private museum in Taiwan. Mr Wen-Long Shi is an amateur violinist so its no surprise that he has one of the largest collections of violins in the world. It includes instruments made by most the famous violinmakers, like Stardivarius, Guarneri del Gesu and Nicolo Amati. He was keen to raise the standard of classical music in Taiwan so he founded the Chi Mei Cultural Foundation and a scholarship to encourage young artists.
Three years ago the museum moved into its current location in the Rende area of Tainan into a neo-classic palace style building with expansive gardens with many fountains and sculptures. These beautiful gardens are a popular destination for Taiwanese families to picnic and relax over weekends. The outside space is also used for outdoor concerts and events.
But it’s what is inside that attracts most people. Mr Wen-Long Shi said “My museum serves only one purpose: to exist for the public.” “The museum is here so that people of all ages and social backgrounds can have easy access to Western culture and arts without having to travel abroad.”
There are several section to explore: The Fine Arts section with art from the 13th to 20th century; The Rodin Gallery with works by Rodin, his teacher and peers; The Musical Instruments displays; The Sculpture Halls; Exhibition of Arms and Armour; and The Natural History and Fossils exhibition showcasing animals and their evolution from five continents.
Something I like in all the museums in Taiwan are the interactive displays. In the Chimei Museun there is a permanent exhibition called On Art Conservation and it shows the entire process of the restoration of The Mandolin Player. In this section people and student in particular are encouraged to touch and feel and interact more closely with the display.
A temporary exhibition on display now is the classically styled still-life art work of Henk Helmantel. This Dutch artist is often at the centre of controversy due to his honesty about the amount of money he makes from his art. So no surprises that he has brought a whole shop with where copies of his art and all sorts of memorabilia and paraphernalia, all in good taste and quality, decorated with his art, is sold.
As photography is forbidden inside the museum I have taken photos of the brochures issued by the museum to show the inside of the building.