Many of the colorful paintings and murals that adorn Taiwan's historic sites and buildings suffer from mold, termite infestation or inappropriate restoration. Under the recently revised Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, however, the preservation of such paintings and murals has now been given top-priority status.
The Ministry of Culture provides consultation and technical support to help local governments preserve regional cultural assets. When necessary, the Ministry also implements emergency renovation and restoration programs.
For example, the Ministry's Bureau of Cultural Heritage was tasked with restoring a huge mural at the Dai Tien Kung Temple, a historic building in Kaohsiung. For the past three years, the Bureau also painstakingly revitalized 12 gates of the door gods in a project known as "From Historic Scenes to Laboratories.” The gates were painted by the late folk art maestro painter Chen Shou-yi and will be shipped back to Beigang Chao Tian Temple in Yunlin County, where they were originally installed, after restoration is complete.
The National Center for Cultural Heritage supervised by the Bureauhas served as "the top medical team” of cultural preservation in Taiwan by studying the damages wrought by Taiwan's hot and humid environment. The Center has now developed the necessary materials and techniques to assist the administration with different cultural assets in the preservation field, Shy Gwo-long, the Bureau's director-general, said at a press conference on Oct. 23.
The experts of the center use different scientific methods when dealing with each preservation project, said Shy. For instance, the main challenge in restoring Kaohsiung's temple murals was salt damage, the official noted. They also used scientific methods that have been tested in the laboratory to clean and repair the Beigang temple gates.
At the Oct. 23 press conference, the Bureau played a video on its research efforts over the years while researchers demonstrated some of the equipment used in their restoration work. The Bureau will also hold a ceremony to mark the door gods' return to the Beigan temple, a national-level historic edifice, on Oct. 26.
A researcher demonstrates different scientific methods of restoration at a press conference on Oct. 22.
Shy Gwo-long (left), director-general of the Bureau of Cultural Heritage, explains the main challenges faced by cultural asset preservationists in Taiwan.