On Thursday, May 17, 2012, a ceremony at a construction site in Tainan Metropolitan Park (台南都會公園) marked a significant step in the realization of a dream. The dream began with the aspirations of Wen-long Hsu (許文龍), founder of Chimei Industrial Group (奇美實業集團), to provide free access to fine art and culture from around the world to ordinary citizens in Taiwan. The dream will be complete when construction of the new Chimei Museum (奇美博物館) is complete sometime in August 2012, and when the doors open to the public in December. In preparation for its eventual opening, Chimei’s Founder Hsu and current Chairman Frank Liao (廖錦祥) presided over a ceremonial donation of the museum building worth NT1.3 billion (US$43.88 million), which is built on city land. Accepting the museum building for Tainan City was Mayor Ching-de Lai (賴清德). The Chimei executives presented the mayor with a painting and unveiled a golden statue titled “Angel of Glory,” which will be housed on top of the main dome of the museum.
The new Chimei Museum will be a major attraction for culture in Tainan, a city already known as the center of culture in Taiwan. It will have 40,000 square meters of floor space, and its manicured grounds will cover 9.5 hectares. There will nothing quite like the building in Taiwan when it is complete, as it will resemble the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, but only slightly smaller.
The new museum will replace the current Chimei Museum, which currently occupies the 5th through 8th floors of the Chimei Headquarters Building in Tainan City. The current museum houses an impressive display of Western art and culture, with one of the most outstanding collections being the over 1000 celebrated stringed instruments, many of which are priceless. Since 1990, the collection of violins has been made available to famous musicians for special performances. Expansion is necessitated because the current facilities cannot house the current collections of over 10,000 pieces, and its limited size restricts access to people who make appointments only. Mr. Hsu believes in unrestricted public access, so he put the idea of a permanent museum in 2005. The approach of the new museum will be redesigned to make the displays easier to understand and appreciate by the masses.
Mr. Wen-long Hsu is an amateur violinist and avid art lover who, early on in his successful career, believed in giving back to society and providing cultural enrichment to the masses. In 1977, he established the Chimei Cultural Foundation, which supported the Chimei Museum and other cultural projects in Taiwan. His diligence and decisions made Chimei one of the largest companies in the world, and has placed him on the Forbes’ World’s Richest People list. His commitment to giving back and enriching the lives of human beings through art and culture will certainly provide a lasting legacy.