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An Art Stage with Boundless Magic--Developing New Display Glamour at the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts
  B M S
Introduction
Unlike many other museums and art museums in Taiwan, most exhibitions at the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (KMFA) are curated and implemented in-house. Because of this, the layout of display spaces can clearly captured the ambience required by exhibition, while also addressing such various other considerations as the characteristics of the items on display, the presentation of the exhibition theme, general environment, the positioning and context sought by the exhibition, viewers' lines of movement through the exhibition, and pairing of the exhibition with the existing space.
Not including the main lobby, from the underground floor to the fourth floor, KMFA contains approximately 9,000 square meters of display space, which implies that considerable thought must be paid to the layout and arrangement of individual floors. In general, most special exhibitions with admission fees are held on the first floor, which allows a relatively great amount of control over visitors' lines of movement in this enclosed space. The second floor mostly contains the classic works of masters or artists of earlier generations. The third floor formerly displayed calligraphic works, ink paintings, and ancient artifacts, but more recently has been used for researchexhibitions focusing on local artists. The multi-purpose room on the fourth floor has a high ceiling and natural lighting, and connects four large spaces. Because of this, it can provide an appropriate venue for exhibitions of a more experimental nature. For instance, the Forum for Creativity in Art, Kaohsiung Awards, and other avant garde or experimental exhibitions are held here.
When arranging an exhibition space, the first thing to think about is how to clearly express the exhibition's theme, attributes, and features, etc. This work should also take the contextual relationship between the exhibition and prior and later related exhibitions into consideration, and also look at how the exhibition may match any concurrent exhibitions. The next step is the selection of standard colors and drafting of a color scheme, and this is closely linked with our conception of such elements as the overall exhibition theme, general ambiance, and sense of space.
Since the museum usually has five or six exhibitions being held concurrently, appropriate planning and attention to the foregoing details can give visitors different guidance and different experiences of the exhibition setting.

When planning an exhibition, pondering an exhibition's characteristics, and designing the display space, certain "keywords" may arise; if these keywords can be put to good use, the features of the exhibition as a whole can be made people the impression of being "crazy" or "complex," these words became important elements of the exhibition area and exhibition literature.
Salvador Dalí, Mind of Genius was held in the lofted display spaces provided by this museum's Galleries 104 and 105, and the immense eyes featured in the enormous 5 x 10 meter oil painting Spellbound covered an entire wall. Thismovie set was paired with Dalí's sculpture Space Venus and Mae West Lips Sofa. The surrounding area contained small sculptures in glass display cases, which were linked with some larger sculptures. The wall enclosing these sculptures was used to display prints personally made by Dalí. We wanted to emphasize these prints, which exhibited the strong tactile properties of Dalí's work, as well as his proficient use of printmaking techniques.
The display space of Salvador Dalí, Mind of Genius gave an overall impression of curves; it gave viewers plenty to see and appreciate, and let them experience Dalí's outrageous but lavishly creative art. In addition, the line of movement through the exhibition ultimately took visitors to a quiet private space displaying furniture designed by Dalí for his wife and muse, Gala, and embodying their emotional world. In this sanctum, the walls and mirrors enable viewers to imagine themselves in Dalí's life and times.
Before we can determine the features that an exhibition should highlight, and its focal point, we must often do considerable research. For instance, we may need to obtain a thorough understanding of the background of works and the artist, relevant details of art history, and aspects of aesthetic theory. We may need to gain a crystal-clear understanding of the exhibition's content and the display space if we are to clearly represent the features of the exhibition as a whole.
The exhibition John Thomson—Window to the East: The Journey to Formosa, China and Southeast Asia, 1865~1871 203. We had to pay extreme attention to the details of the exhibition area, and do our utmost to ensure that various features and topics received due emphasis. In particular, apart from hoping that local visitors would experience the emotional impact of seeing the Taiwan of over a century ago, we also wanted new residents from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and China to be moved by old scenes of the people and places in their home countries.
A small window at the entrance of this exhibition was paired with an almost monochrome color scheme to give the effect of a gradually-focusing old camera. This effect was intended to let viewers recapture at a visceral level the impact of the long-imagined Formosa when Thomson first sailed into Kaohsiung Harbor in 1871. We were aware that ordinary visitors may not have been aware that Thomson's photographs gave the world its first impression of Taiwan. Because of this, we placed two enlarged upright photographs taken by Thomson side-by-side on the exhibition's theme boards. After viewers finished looking at the whole exhibition, and returned to the starting point, they may have had a sudden flash of enlightenment as they understood the value of these images and appreciated the subtle relationship between the two photographs.
To ensure that a visual focus gradually emerged, the exhibition space also employed temperate walls separating the exhibition into different sections. This transformed what was originally a lofted, large, emptyspace into a collection of several mostly-enclosed settings, which served to separate areas with different themes, while also reducing the mutual interference between audio in the different areas. In addition, the venue also featured some wooden design elements, such as openwork panels, that were actually decorative materials from a previous exhibition A Visionary Mind: The Art of Yuan Jai in a Quarter-Century. The use of these elements enabled us to save considerable expense. This also underscores the reality that, if an exhibition space can be planned well in advance, it may be possible to achieve significant continuity in design with prior and later exhibitions. The exhibition John Thomson—Window to the East also contained a number of educational elements, which included a showing of the old animated film Perrine Story.
This very tasteful cartoon let viewers see old photographic and developing techniques in a mobile photographic cart operated by the main female character and her mother. The exhibition also included an educational video concerning the wet collodion photographic production process, which was an important photographic method used in Thomson's time. Furthermore, we also provided an educational stereoscope corner allowing viewers to have the extraordinary experience of viewing stereoscopic images, which was a popular activity during the 19th century. By giving visitors the opportunity to absorb and appreciate old photographs, and finally obtain hands-on experiences, the exhibition as a whole left viewers with an unforgettable impression.

Seeking the Exotic in the Plain, a Kaleidoscopic Representation
Land of Fertility versus Ceramic Visions 2012: Taiwan Ceramics Biennale

As mentioned earlier, although we often attempt, whenever possible, to continue to use decorative materials from the previous exhibition in a current exhibition occupying the same space, we must ultimately still highlight the features and attributes of the current exhibition. We want even the most faithful museum-goers to feel that each exhibition gives a fresh, new impression, and avoid the stale feeling of being in an exhibition space where one has already been.
Taking this museum's Land of Fertility and Ceramic Visions 2012: Taiwan Ceramics Biennale as examples, these two exhibitions were held successively in the museum's first-floor Galleries 101-103. The former exhibition, Land of Fertility, introduced Russia's Academy painting, and its developmental history, while the latter relied on award-winning works from an international ceramic arts competition in Taiwan to
express the limitless plasticity of a single material (ceramic). While both of these exhibitions contained a rather diverse assortment of works, they had quite different characteristics. As a result, although the two exhibitions were presented in the same space, we had to ensure that visitors obtained lasting impressions from the exhibitions that were in keeping with the exhibitions' different natures. We did not want our visitors to become aware that the exhibitions were held in the same space or venue.
Land of Fertility introduced the Russian realistic school of painting, and was highly self-contained. This exhibition also provided a look at Russia's long-standing national tones, as well as the conventions of classical painting, and the layout of exhibition areas and the arrangement of atured classical colors, and we hoped to give viewers the impression of visiting a classical museum.
As for the colors used on the walls of the various sections, we originally planned to use various colors containing gray, including grayish yellow, grayish green, and grayish blue.
For instance, we intended to use pale yellow paired with gray in the exhibition's theme boards, with the pale yellow characters announcing the exhibition's title portrayed on a gray background. Nevertheless, the first exhibition room (Gallery 101) had a somewhat different color scheme, and featured greater use of pastel tones than the other rooms. It was felt that russet red would be an appropriate matching color, and we further decided that the use of russet red would give a consistent impression, while also letting visitors feel that they were in a classical museum when they entered the exhibition area. Basically, these special design considerations were intended to highlight the features and ambience of Russian realistic painting.
In the wake of Land of Fertility, the next exhibition held in Galleries 101-103 was Ceramic Visions 2012: Taiwan Ceramics Biennale, which was quite different in terms of exhibition attributes and the characteristics of the displayed works. "Ceramic Visions 2012" visited KMFA after being held at the Yingko Ceramics Museum in Taipei County. But while the Yingko Ceramics Museum provided an exhibition environment and atmosphere geared toward display of ceramics, we wondered how to emphasize the exhibition's features among all the other exhibitions concurrently held at KMFA, while also differentiating our presentation from that of the Yingko Ceramics Museum. Should we perhaps try to make visitors feel that they were wandering in a compact ceramics museum?
Another aspect to be considered was that the display of ceramics works is quite different from the display of planar works such as paintings. In parallel with the display of sculpture, ceramics exhibits must show the details and glaze colors of various parts of the works, which viewers must be free to appreciate from different angles.
However, to a certain degree, ceramics works may often have fragile details, such as sharp corners, and may sit unsteadily on their bases. Even award-winning ceramic works may have their individual weaknesses. Nevertheless, we hope to present these works in the best possible way.
In addition, since the Taiwan Ceramics Biennal solicits works internationally, the exhibition contained a fairly large number of works, and these had to be classified on the basis of such aspects as theme, form, material, and mass.
At the same time, however, we had to consider the safety of the ceramic works while arranged in the exhibition areas.
After reflecting on these considerations, we ultimately decided to use partitions with different heights to create semi-enclosed areas in the Ceramic Visions 2012 exhibition, which resulted in a venue containing dramatically different corners. At the same time, such arrangement provided the direction of movement. As for colors, although we had originally thought that white walls would interfere least with the glaze colors of the ceramic works, we eventually wondered if a "white cube" presentation approach would be too cold, and might not be appropriate for highly tactile ceramic works. As a consequence, we concluded that walls with neutral colors would be the optimal choice. With regard to the overall concept of the exhibition, we hoped to create the impression of being in a very small ceramics museum.
Whenever possible, we try to plan the design and layout of two or three exhibitions at the same time, which enables us to avoid the need for hasty planning. Apart from deciding how to present different exhibitions in fixed display spaces, we also have to think about how to link exhibitions held in the same space at different times. For instance, if we reuse exhibition materials, the funds saved can be used to present an exhibition in even greater breadth and detail. Alternately, we can use the money to hold richer educational activities, which can spread knowledge of art and culture even more widely.
Know-how: Derived from the Imagination Exhibition design is not just an extension of interior design, but is rather a professional field in its own right. While curators must attempt to find an appropriate space for each exhibition, they must confront the issue of how to envision a unique space for each exhibition within the unchangeablespaces of a museum. As a consequence, the members of our team, who include curatorial members and related art professionals, must possess a knack for spatial layout, and must be prepared to give the designers appropriate assistance. Only this can ensure that we make the best use of our pre-existing display spaces to present the features of each exhibition as fully as possible.
Our exhibition rooms are suitable for documentary exhibitions, can recreate historical spaces, and can also re-interpret history. This is an extremely good environment for the display of works, and factors such as facilities and environmental quality will not affect the impact of display.
While we encourage children in display spaces, we also insist on protective measures to ensure that they do not cause problems. For instance, children can squirm past barriers in display rooms as long as there is a gap of more than 20 cm. As a consequence, we make sure that gaps do not exceed 20 cm, and typically employ gaps of 15 or 18 cm, which also yield an attractive visual effect.
Actually, the museum must consider many other factors when planning an exhibition. For instance, there must be sufficient space for wheelchairs to turn around, we need to help visitors adapt from lighting of 400 to dimmer light of 150 or even 100, the temperature difference between inside and outside must be minimized, and we need to control crowd density. And while protecting the works, we must make sure that there are no dead angles, and all visitors have room to stand and appreciate the works. As a result, we face many challenges.
We try to pay as much attention to details as possible, and some of our know-how is derived from our imagination, which lets us find ways of doing things even when funding is insufficient. We try to look for alternative methods and find different results, which ensures that we do things quite differently from others. Although many people may know that repairing or renovating a house is far more difficult than building one from scratch, it is worthwhile for us if we can achieve an exhibition area reuse rate of over 30%. For instance, when we have an exhibition planning and design budget of NT$100,000, if we can save NT$30,000, then we can hold more education and extension activities, and can serve two or three more classes of children. This may allow us to shape the artistic and cultural thinking of lots of members of the next generation. So all reuse is worthwhile.
The number of visitors to KMFA has increased steadily in recent years, and is now twice the number in past years. The museum won first place in the Top 10 Excellent Exhibitions Held by Governmental Organizations for four years in a row (2009-2012), and has had many exhibitions in the top ten during each year. Our hard work has received a high degree of recognition from the public and art fans, and both our appeal and professionalism have won affirmation.
But in spite of these achievements, we will continue to workhard and rely on a high level of teamwork. The faithfulsupport we have received from the public is the best driverand motivator of our efforts to attain sustainability.
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