Hualien is actually the distribution center for minerals in Taiwan, accounting for almost 90% of the mineral resources of the country. Taiwan is only second to Italy when it comes to exporting minerals as raw materials and because of this Hualien has earned the names the “City of Marbles” and the “Hometown of Rocks”. In addition, Hualien also makes use of local rocks to form marvelous stone artworks, making it a base for domestic stone sculpturing artists. Because of such facts, there is no other place better than Hualien to establish a gallery such as the Hualien County Stone Sculpture Museum.
Being the first stone museum in the country of Taiwan, the museum houses several fine artworks and sculptures that have been collected through the years from international stone sculpturing festivals. Because of the rich resources of the county, the museum serves host to the famed Hualien International Stone Culture Festival where domestic and international stone sculptors comes together to compete in making masterpieces of stone.
Because of Hualien’s rich mineral resources, it has attracted many artists of stone sculpturing to settle in the county. Today, there are more than 300 stone sculptors living in Hualien, allowing them to create the first stone sculpting group in the country. The Hualien Stone Sculpturing Association was created in 1992 and up to now, regularly holds conferences to exchange theories and techniques with fellow sculptors in the stone sculpturing arts.
Stone sculptures are found scattered all over the museum so visitors should take the time to examine and appreciate each sculpture. Designers usually make use of different qualities of stone to create a beautiful artwork. However, one of the many aims of the museum is to carve Hualien into a stone sculpting tourism landmark by expanding the museum into an actual outdoor exhibition. This does not mean just expanding it into the vicinity of the museum property but it goes as far as reaching the mountains and surrounding seas of Hualien as well.
Stone sculpturing is closely tied with the natural environment and the museum realizes the importance of this. This is why pieces that emerged as winners from the International Stone Culture Festival are seen all over the county. Some can be found up on the mountain peaks while other artworks can be found near the coastal areas.
The museum is open from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon with admission fees at NT$20 for adults and NT$10 for children. The perfect time to visit is when the sun is at its most radiant as visitors will be able to notice every detail of a stone sculpture. In addition, some sculptures even shine under bright sunlight turning them into an even more pleasant sight to see.
Combining art, culture and the area’s natural resources is what Hualien does best. The goal of the Hualien County Stone Sculpture Museum is to improve art appreciation by expanding the stage for stone sculpturing so the public would know more about these precious mineral materials of the island.