Jul 09 2012

New Director for Taipei Fine Arts Museum

by Hillary Luong

Huang Hai-Ming standing in front of Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, 2012. Courtesy Taipei Fine Arts Museum.

On July 2, Taiwanese professor, curator and critic, Huang Hai-Ming, was officially appointed director of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM), a position that has been vacant for the past 11 months. Since 2006, Huang had been head of the Department of Cultural Creative Industries at National Taipei University of Education.

TFAM has been shrouded in scandal since 2009, when a Taiwanese politician, Hsieh Hsiao-Yun, was given the top job. Hsieh was widely critiqued for ignoring the artistic and academic ambitions of the museum in favor of appeasing government agendas and increasing the museum’s revenue through international blockbuster exhibitions. Only a year and three months into her appointment, Hsieh was promoted to head of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and replaced by Tamkang University architecture professor, Wu Kwang-Tyng.

During the transition, tensions ran high. Although the local art community was excited about Wu’s potential, his ability to enact change was considerably hindered by the fact that his unpopular predecessor was effectively his new boss. In March 2011, an email circulated that accused Hsieh of colluding with the private company Universal Impression Co. Ltd—which had been contracted to facilitate an advisory trip comprising director Glenn D. Lowry and three other senior staff from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in February 2011—for personal gain, leading to an official investigation. During the investigation, Hsieh blamed Wu for bringing in the international exhibitions, and although she was subsequently found innocent of any wrongdoing, she resigned in late July. Wu left his directorial position only days later, with deputy director Liu Ming-Hsing serving as acting director since then.

It may be too early to judge what direction Huang will take, or how he plans to rebuild local confidence in the institution. However, TFAM will soon be in the international spotlight once more when the Taipei Biennial opens to the public on September 29.