Located on the fifth floor of the NCKU Library, The Beauty of Chinese Lock Room was officially opened to the public on November 6, 2003, at 10:30 a.m. The opening ceremony was held by the President of NCKU, Mr. Kao Chiang; the Chairman of Ancient Chinese Machinery Cultural Foundation, Mr. Yen Hung-Sen; and the Library Director of NCKU, Mr. Chen Chi-Nan.
As President Kao mentioned in his speech, the sizes of collections can determine the space of a display room and the possibility of holding an exhibition. From this perspective, small locks have a great advantage. This exhibition room was originally a small group study room on the fifth floor of the Library. Thanks to President Kao’s sincere invitation for displaying Chairman Yen’s collection of ancient Chinese locks, the Library, therefore, is also serving as a museum, in line with the trend of diversified developments.
As NCKU’s lecturer and mechanical engineering professor, Yen specializes in the creation and design of mechanisms. His new ideas about collections were deeply influenced by an exhibition he attended when he studied at Purdue University in 1978. After a long period of contemplation, he set five requirements that his collections must meet: 1. Related to his specialty: mechanisms; 2. combined with local culture for further research; 3. small sizes for easily finding collection areas; 4. affordable; 5. rare objects with special characteristics. Locks with thoughtfully constructed mechanisms, locksmiths’ elaborate designs and appropriate sizes, perfectly fulfill these requirements. Furthermore, the collection of Chinese locks also allows him easier access to this field of subject. To date, Yen has collected more than 700 traditional Chinese locks.
Due to his interests in the structures and designs of Chinese locks, Yen started to devote himself to the research and appreciation of locks. Because he often visited museums and libraries when he traveled overseas, he found that the West had specific accomplishments and consistent research directions in the studies on locks; the carefully designed and delicate Chinese locks, however, had not been deeply researched or collected. Therefore, Yen dedicated himself even more to the study of Chinese locks, intending to share his collections with the public.
National Cheng Kung University has been doing its utmost to support artistic and cultural activities. Library Director Mr. Chen Chi-Nan’s idea of diversified management has enabled the creation of this special exhibition space. Yen studiously picked 122 locks among his collections, such as: broad locks, pattern locks, combination locks, utensil locks, and character locks, to be displayed in “The Beauty of Chinese Lock Room,” which is situated on the fifth floor of the Library. These locks of different materials and types are placed in 17 glass cabinets, and one of them - an iron lock made during the Han Dynasty, exhibits the ruthless marks of history in its rusted, mottled appearance. The exhibition comprises cute animal-designed locks, graceful blessing locks with carved patterns, and curvy musical instrument locks, as well as specially designed keys. With the classic illustrations, visitors will be greatly surprised by how exquisite these treasured Chinese antiques are.
In order to protect these valuable artifacts, the Library has especially established a 24-hour security system, a surveillance system, and an automatic lighting control system, in addition to arranging for insurance. Also, a computer is available for visitors to search for more information in the Ancient Chinese Locks Web-site Museum (http://www.acmcf.org.tw/lock/).
During the preparation for The Beauty of Chinese Lock Room, the Library was greatly supported by the University, and aided by Ms. Li Ju-Ching, assistant researcher of the National Science and Technology Museum, and Ms. Huang Hsin-Hui, doctoral student at the Mechanical Engineering Graduate School of NCKU. Together with the cooperation of the Library staff, the exhibition was finally launched as scheduled. Since then, we have attentively managed the exhibition and acquired feedback from numerous visitors. We look forward to your arrival, which we promise will be a truly rewarding visit.