Museum for Everyone: Exhibition of Donated Collection, 2011-2015
Since the Preparation Office of the NMTH was founded in 2000, the museum has been collecting different objects through various channels. Personal donations, in particular, have been well received from many people who generously gave away their cherished antiques or objects to the museum. The types of these donations vary; some items were from a very long time ago, some were common objects in the past, some witnessed critical moments of history, and some were bestowed with touching stories. Every donation has historical importance and worth. With donations accumulating and increasing each year, the museum now has more than three hundred donors, with the more than twenty thousand donated objects that account for nearly twenty percent of the entire museum collection. Donations, have thus been an essential source of the museum’s collections.
This Special Exhibition displays the results of the donations received by the museum during the five years from its opening in 2011 to 2015, through which it hopes to pay a tribute to all the donors, as well as to express great appreciation for their donations. The content of the exhibition focuses on the memories of common lives in Taiwan, and we have selected some representative, special items and stories from the donations, and hope that this exhibition could manifest the importance and signification of private collections. When looking at these donations, you would find that every single item shows traces of the common lives in different parts of society, with the various types of objects telling the progress of different times and transitions of different social cultures in Taiwanese history. Altogether, they constitute the most intriguing stories of Taiwan.
Many of the items donated to the NMTH were once objects that belonged to the donors’ parents, including resumes, letters, certificates of all sorts, diaries and manuscripts, pictures, drawings and even tools and utensils, revealing the tracks of lives of the original owners. This is also the reason why the NMTH endeavors carry out research into life history and family history, especially personal experiences, and what these experiences meant to the subjects. When exploring the histories of Taiwan, framing such experiences in their social backgrounds and cultural contexts not only allows us to better understand the research subjects, but also helps to construct the theories of the invisible factors that operate in society at the macro scale. This section, therefore, deals with various donated personal objects and stories behind them, and we have selected six remarkable people in the two generations of the Japanese period to the post-war era, including the dancer Li Hui-Mei, athlete Chen Wen-Yen, artist Xie Zhao-Zhi, and photographer Huang Ze-Xiu, midwife Lin-Gong Tien-Gen, and Mr. Wang Tien-Fu and Mrs. Wang-Wu Jin-Xue of the Jin-quan-cheng Grain Shop in Tainan. Through the personal objects that donated by these individuals’ families, we hope to present you with the stories of their lives, how they overcame their own challenges, and how they built their achievements in the face of the changing regimes from different backgrounds and in different social positions.
Popular entertainment is rooted in the common lives of the people, as well as being part of popular culture, and thus to understand the historical and cultural developments of a certain place, it is important to also understand the local entertainments. In the past century, popular entertainment in Taiwan has evolved in content, form, location and equipment, along with the increase in population, the development of the economy and advances in technologies. In light of such progress, this section displays donated items that are relevant to popular entertainment from the Japanese period to the post-war years (1960-1990) in Taiwan. Here, you can see how the new entertainment industries, such as pop music, movies, and television shows, became inseparable from modern life in Taiwan with advances in industrial development, business, media, and the introduction of foreign trends. Through the donation of various entertainment-related items, such as vinyl records and cassettes, radios, televisions and toys, we hope you can, in this busy modern world, remember the blurring memories of the past, and relive the developments and charms of earlier entertainments in Taiwan.
Silhouettes of Traditional Industries
Many Taiwanese traditional industries have disappeared, or are disappearing, in the transitions of time. As these industries are fading out of people’s lives, they are not only becoming mere memories of the aged, but also are lost being in literature. Among those objects donated to the NMTH, many are items that were used by, or representative of, earlier businesses, and sometimes even family businesses. We have thus selected items that represent eight different lines of work in this section, including farming, aquaculture, salt making, rush weaving, pastry making, grocery retail, and photography, to bring the glories of these traditional industries back to memory.
From the minute we were born, to the moments of becoming an adult, getting married, having children, and even coming to the end of life, we all have grand rituals or customs for various important phases of life. This section thus introduces the items used for four critical stages of life in Taiwanese culture –marriage, birth, old age, and ancestor worship. Quite a number of these donations were once heirlooms of the donors, and each of them carries different meanings – the welcoming of new life, good wishes to the married, comfort to the elderly, and the admiration and yearning to the deceased. The highlight of these items are the objects and furniture involved in the customs of marriage, as normally such objects are rarely included in exhibitions due to the amount of space they require, even though they are also the most common items that are sent to the museum for donation and evaluation.
The Memory of Us – the Museum for Everyone
Each donor, and every donation, carries the owner’s trust and expectations in the NMTH. What is entrusted to the NMTH is both the cherished items and memories; and what is expected from the NMTH is the preservation and good use of these items. Such responsibilities have always been on the shoulders of every member of the Museum’s staff, and have always been taken as the goals we are devoted to. To the NMTH, these donations have not only enriched the museum collections, but also given us an opportunity to pass down the precious cultural assets and memories of common lives, as well as to keep writing the stories of the donors and the donated objects. Through this special exhibition, we hope to draw your attention and interest to the memories of the past, and to explore with us the forgotten, the hidden stories of the people and the land on this island. No matter how little the objects you have, no matter how grand the stories you know, we hope you can all join us to record history, to create the Museum for Everyone!
2016/01/13 - 2016/10/30
Special Exhibition Room, 4th Floor, Exhibition & Education Building