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Taiwan Research Programme
London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE


Professor Stephan Feuchtwang

Dr Fang-Long Shih

The State and Changing Museum Provisions: a comparative study between Britain and Taiwan

With Ms Chi-Jung Chu (London School of Economics)

Series: Seminar on Taiwan in Comparative Perspective 

Date: Thursday 17 January 2008, 6pm-8pm

Venue: Seligman Library (Room A607), Old Building, London School of Economics (LSE)

Chair: Professor Stephan Feuchtwang (Taiwan Culture Research Programme)


My research examines the changing role that states have played in the provision of museums, in particular considering how state subsidy has affected museum governance. Questions arising are:

  • What kinds of states involve themselves more (or less) with museum governance, and why?
  • Have there have been changes in the state's involvement with museum governance, and what are the forces driving to these changes?
  • What kinds of states subside museums the most (or the least), and why?
  • Have there have been changes in the state subsidy of museums, and if so, what are the forces driving to these changes?

The first part of my presentation will consider these questions in a comprehensive overview, while the second part will offer a detailed and comparative analysis of Britain and Taiwan.

I will propose three ideas. The first is that a museum's ability to adapt to state policy affects its nature in different temporal and geographical conditions. The current funding trend tends to adopt a neo-liberal perspective - decreasing/minimising state subsidy while promoting strong involvement from the private sector.  However, a number of factors facilitate or impede the state's adoption of this neo-liberal ideology. In particular, I argue that a fair degree of capitalist development and political freedom are essential for this development.

Second, a new method of museum governance is the result of styles of modern governance. There are multiple agents/actors in the governing process, and multiple objectives as policy ends.  The latter trend is especially exemplified in culture-led regeneration projects in which museums are often included.

Third, as long as museums remain representative of the state, it is unlikely that the state will give way to marketization completely. However, commercialization and the incorporation of marketing mechanisms into museum governance shows how the state is driving innovative museum practices, and how museums are responding to the contemporary culture of consumption. The constant negotiation between public and the private involvement in museums will be enhanced by the empowerment from the civil society.

About the Speaker

Ms Chi-jung Chu is a PhD candidate at Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science. She was an assistant curator at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and later worked at the Department of Cultural Affairs of the Taipei City Government. Her PhD research is on the relationship between states and museum provision. She has also studied museums and globalization, the idea of city museums, and the creative industries. She has presented papers at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (2007), and at the International Council of Museum's Vienna triennial (2007) (co-authored with Szu-yun Chang) and the ICOM Seoul triennial (2004).  She has contributed to art magazines in Taiwan and her book Britain: journeys through art (in Chinese) was published in Taiwan in 2001 and China in 2003.