Taiwan National Palace Museum Breaks 3 Ming & Qing Dynasty Artefacts Over Past 18 Months
Over the past 18 months, at least three artefacts from the Ming and Qing dynasties were broken at the National Palace Museum in Taiwan.
The items, worth S$108 million (US$77 million), were broken in three separate incidents, reported The Guardian.
These breakages only came to light last week after Taiwan’s opposition legislator, Chen I-shin accused the museum director of covering it up.
The museum, however, said it was unable to determine who broke two of the artefacts. The remaining one was reportedly broken due to negligent handling and disciplinary action will be taken against.
Taiwan museum breaks artefacts worth S$108 million
On Friday (28 Oct), the National Palace Museum revealed in a Facebook post that three artefacts that dated back to the 15th and 17th centuries were discovered to be broken.
The affected items include a Ming dynasty yellow teacup with two emerald dragons, dated between 1368 and 1644.
Another yellow teacup with a “dragon pattern” from the Qing dynasty was also among the three broken artefacts.
Despite combing through a decade worth of CCTV footage, the museum could not determine who was responsible for these breakages.
The last broken artefact involved a blue and white floral plate from the Qing dynasty, which was broken due to negligent handling.
A senior staff member had reportedly placed the plate on a one-metre-high desk from which it fell and broke.
The museum shared that disciplinary action was being taken.
In total, the three items were reportedly worth S$108 million (US$77 million).
Museum director denies covering breakages up
Taiwan’s opposition legislator Chen I-shin had accused the National Palace Museum’s director Wu Mi-cha of ordering staff not to speak of the breakages and treat paperwork as classified.
The accusations came on Friday (28 Oct) after the legislator claimed he received a tip-off. Director Wu strongly denied these allegations.
He explained in a press conference that the museum’s actions were to ensure “evidence” was not tampered with during investigations.
“We have absolutely not hidden anything about this”, he said.
According to The Guardian, the broken artefacts were classified only as “general antiquities” — the lowest-level designation of cultural heritage.
Because of this, there was no formal notification to the public or the culture ministry.
Wu also claimed that the value of the artefacts was “way lower” than what had been reported.
Museum vows to improve storing practices
The National Palace Museum, located on the outskirts of Taipei, has the world’s largest collection of Chinese artefacts.
Most of them were brought over from mainland China by Chiang Kai-shek when the Nationalists escaped to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War.
Many of these artefacts had been kept safe throughout the civil war and the Sino-Japanese war.
The Guardian reported that at any one time, only a fraction of the artefacts is exhibited at the museum.
If not on loan or being exhibited, artefacts are uninsured. This includes the three broken items.
Following the incident, the National Palace Museum vowed to improve its artefacts storing practices.
Meanwhile, Taiwan opposition parties as well as nationalist social media users in China have jumped on news of these breakages to accuse Taiwan authorities of trying to “destroy Chinese culture”.
Have news you must share? Get in touch with us via email at email@example.com.
Featured image adapted from WIO News.
Drop us your email so you won't miss the latest news.