A world-class private museum, the Chimei Museum is billed as the best museum not just in Tainan-a historical city in the South of Taiwan-but also in the whole country. With a huge collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture, musical instruments, arms and armor and other objects from the past, the museum is definitely a must-visit in Tainan.
The museum first opened its doors to the public in 1997, even though the idea of one took shape long before the Chi Mei Cultural Foundation-the private organization maintaining and operating the museum-was founded.
What started out as a simple childhood dream of Hsu Wen Lung, the Chairman of the Chi Mei Industrial Corporation, became a realization when he decided it was time to fulfill his ambition.
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With his love for music and the desire to promote classical music in Taiwan, he ended up educating the public and developing cultural awareness of the people as well. And so began the acquisition for what is now acclaimed internationally and acknowledged by the Forbes magazine as “one of the world’s most surprising art collections”.
The collections are divided into five sections: the Western Art, Musical Instruments, Natural History, Arms and Armors and the Antiquities and Artifacts. Another collection about technology was said to be “in the works” and will soon join the many others in the museum.
Indeed, the collections in the museum span different countries and several historical periods. The paintings are of European origin including 18th and 19th Centuries and demonstrating the development of the Western art. Most of the paintings are classical and impressionist. Some of the paintings include The Madonna of Humility, Faites Venir à moi les enfants, Saint Martin et le Mendiant by Lucas Cranach the Younger, Charity by Jacques Blanchard- El Greco, The Last Tears by Narcisse-Virgilio Diaz de Pena, La Charité and the La Bénédiction des blés among others.
The weapons date back to the prehistoric period through Bronze period, Iron period and the modern period. There are canons dating back to the 16th Century, such as the two canons in front of the museum that were seized by foreigners in the 19th Century, which were only purchased by the foundation in 1994.
As Hsu Wen Lung being a popular violinist and a collector of rare violins, it is not surprising that the museum also has an extensive collection of valuable violins. There are at least five Antonio Stradivaris, two Guarneri del Gesu, Nicolo Amati, Jacob Stainer, Amati, Rogeri, Joseph Guarneri Filius Andrea, Seraphin, Gagliano and Guadagnini. The museum is also known to lend violins to talented musicians in the country, aside from the scholarship it grants for artists.
Undeniably, the collections in the Chimei Museum make it a must-visit, especially if you love arts and music. At present, the museum charges no entrance fee, but because it attracts a large crowd of tourists every day, visitors are required to book their visit in advance. That alone tells you that the museum would truly be worth your visit. But don’t take our word for it, go see the museum yourself next time you’re in Tainan. You’ll love it there.