To inaugurate the Indigenous Artifact Survey & Conservation Project commissioned by the Ministry of Culture, the National Taiwan Museum held a two-day workshop on indigenous artifact appraisal in Taipei’s Nanmen Park on Nov. 13 and 14.
NTM Director Hung Shih-yu (洪世佑) noted that the Indigenous Artifact Survey & Conservation Project focuses on archival capabilities and will be implemented in collaboration with Pingtung-based Laiyi Indigenous Museum and Shih-tzu Indigenous Museum, where an indigenous artifact survey will be conducted, and relics repaired or preserved accordingly. Following the survey, a database will be established to manage the artifacts.
The first phase of the project will combine NTM’s professional preservation skills with the knowledge of local indigenous museums to foster a team of artifact surveyors who are knowledgeable in damage evaluation and artifact management, preservation, and maintenance.
The workshop is helping to cultivate a field research team of 30 to 50 artifact surveyors. The team’s responsibilities will be investigating and recording names of current tribal artifacts and intangible cultural assets in indigenous languages as well as documenting the usage, creator, imagery, and condition of these cultural assets.
The team will also be responsible for collecting stories behind each artifact and recording its manufacturing process for the purpose of recreating or displaying such artifacts in the future.
The second phase of the project will be to establish a “first aid” station for indigenous artifacts next year at local museums to assist museums and tribespeople in evaluating damaged artifacts and inspecting the preservation conditions. Moreover, the station will offer advice for improving archive rooms and facilities and help resolve preservation and maintenance issues faced by museum workers.
The third phase will be assisting and guiding local museums to apply for cultural credentials that will recognize indigenous communities as preservationists of important cultural heritage and manufacturing skills. At least five artifacts and one important artifact or national treasure are expected to attain formal identification in 2019.
NTM noted that the project will follow the “Big Museum Leading Small Museum” framework of the Museum Mentorship Program that has been in place for the past eight years.
Experience has shown that local museums are important channels to reach aboriginal tribes and help tribespeople understand that the traditional artifacts preserved by museums are not merely tools used in the past but important cultural heritages for building local identity and community consciousness.