Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Free and discounted admission to the National Palace Museum

Over the past few years, several of Taiwan's museums, among them the Gold Ecological Park and Fort San Domingo, have scrapped admission charges. Visitors wanting to see the National Palace Museum's (NPM) unbeatable collection of Chinese antiques and art works still need to pay for admission. In fact, the normal ticket price has in the past decade risen faster than the rate of inflation, from NT$100 per person in 2001 to NT$160 now. However, there's good news fortourists: The museum recently adjusted its admissions policy in order to better manage the throngs of sightseers it receives.

Visitor numbers grew from 2.24 million in 2008 to 3.44 million last year, according to the museum's annual reports (click here to read the 2010 report). In a bid to encourage more people to visit during off-peak times, since the summer the museum has been offering half-price tickets to those entering between 4:30pm and 6:30pm.

Individuals who arrive in this period thus pay NT$80 each, while members of groups pay NT$50 per person. Students pay NT$40. Also, those who arrive in this period also qualify for discounts if that they dine in the museum's restaurant that evening.

The NPM extended its opening hours last year. It now opens its doors at 8:30 every morning, half an hour earlier than it used to. It stays open until 6:30 in the evening every day except Saturday, when it closes at 8:30pm.

Peak morning and afternoon times have been divided into four one-and-a-half hour slots, with no more than 2,800 people – independent visitors as well as members of tour groups – being allowed to enter in each period.

The 2010 report contains some interesting figures. To help meet running costs, which in 2010 totaled NT$1.015 billion, the NPM raises considerable sums from individual and corporate sponsors. In each of the past few years, around 100 people have paid NT$1,000 each to become Annual Friends of the NPM, and each year a dozen or two individuals donate NT$10,000 to become Lifetime Friends.

Corporate sponsorship amounted to NT$44.3m in 2010, up from NT$42.2m the previous year. The single largest donor was Phoenix TV, a Hong Kong-based Chinese-language broadcaster, which gave NT$25m in 2010 and NT$15m in 2009. Corporate supporters have also donated goods such as audio-visual equipment and services such as insurance for loaned artifacts.

The museum has developed other income streams that further reduce its dependence on ticket sales and government subsidies. In 2010, it sold NT$97.5m worth of publications. In the same year, companies authorized to make NPM-branded products sold NT$320.3m worth of wine, tableware, replica paintings and other items.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The southeastern coastline

A favourite spot of mine a few kilometers south of Xuhai (旭海) on the southeast coast, very close to the boundary between Taitung and Pingtung counties.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fresh facts III: Taiwan's Insects

Two things I learned in Taipei Zoo's excellent and very enjoyable Insectarium:

Relative to its land area, Taiwan has twice as many butterfly species as the Philippines, 17 times as many as Japan, and fifty times as many as the Chinese mainland.

Eighteen of the ROC's insect species are protected by conservation laws, including the Troides magellanus butterfly and Coptolabrus nankotaizanus, a ground beetle.