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The National Palace Museum Legally Houses the Qing Court Book Collection, According to Law
Release date:2013/06/18
Artifact protection, knowledge sharing
Clarification statement

1. The Rare Books and Historical Documents demanded to be returned by the National Central Library originated from the Qing court book collection
In preparation to establish a constitutional monarchy, in 1909 the Viceroy of Liangjiang Zhang Zhidong submitted a memorial to found a library and to have the Imperial Household Department provide books as the basis of the collection. When the Republic of China was founded in 1911, the Nationalist Government established the Jingshi Museum (subsequently the Beiping Library), which housed the original book collection transferred from the Imperial Household Department as well as 60 volumes of the Yongle Encyclopaedia and numerous memorials from the Hanlin Academy. Therefore, the said collection of Rare Books and Historical Documents originated from the Qing court book collection and not the National Central Library.

2. The NPM has been legally appointed to manage the said Rare Books and Historical Documents, with a complete collection procedure
To shelter from war, in 1941, this batch of Rare Books and Historical Documents were transported and preserved at the U.S. Library of Congress. The batch of books and documents remained on American soil until 1965, after which they were returned back to Taiwan. Because of the National Central Library’s inadequate storage conditions at the time, it had issued a special letter requesting the NPM to manage the batch of Rare Books and Historical Documents on its behalf. The two parties entered an “NPM-National Central Library Rare Books and Historical Documents Centralized Management Rules and Regulations,” which was reported to the Executive Yuan for approval and served as the basis for management.

On May 8, 1984, the National Central Library has issued a letter to the NPM requesting the return of the above Rare Books and Historical Documents. After applying for the 9-8th Management Standing Committee meeting, the committee members unanimously agreed that the batch of artifacts “in the NPM’s collection have been properly preserved, and that a relocation to the National Central Library is unnecessary.” Based on this notion, the Chairman of the meeting, Yen Chia-Kan, ruled to have NPM still in charge of preserving the collection. This resolution was subsequently reported to the Executive Yuan, who issued its approval on Aug. 14, 1984 based on the provisions listed in the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act. Subsequently, the National Central Library followed the Executive Yuan and the Ministry of Education’s instruction and issued a letter to the NPM on Dec. 26, 1984 to negotiate the item hand-over process. The item hand-over process was later completed by both parties on Mar. 12, 1985 and legally transferred the collection rights of the Rare Books and Historical Documents to the NPM. This verifies the NPM’s legal collection of the said batch of books and documents under a complete procedure.

3. The NPM’s artifact management approach takes into consideration the security of the artifacts as well as public interest to create maximum benefits
As a world-class museum, the NPM has fully dedicated its efforts to the collection, exhibition, and research of these Rare Books and Historical Documents. Therefore, despite the National Central Library’s attempts requesting the return of the above artifacts, the Executive Yuan and the Ministry of Education had concluded to have the NPM continue housing the collection based on artifact security considerations. However, to take into account the public’s rights and interests to examine the artifacts, the NPM has microfilmed the batch of books and documents, and in 1987, supplied the set of microfilms to the National Central Library for the public to access. Relevant provisions are enforced concerning access to the Rare Books and Historical Documents, which are available to experts and scholars by filing corresponding applications. This shows that the current approach adopted by the NPM is one in which the benefits of the Rare Books and Historical Documents can be maximized.

For press-related issues please contact:
Lee Tung-Lin (Parliament Liaison & Public Affairs Office, National Palace Museum) Phone: +886-2-28812021 x 68867 E-mail: tunglin@npm.gov.tw
Lin,Cheng-Yi (Parliament Liaison & Public Affairs Office, National Palace Museum) Phone: +886-2-28812021 x 68991 E-mail: aldophlin@npm.gov.tw

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