The National Center of Photography is scheduled to have its soft opening in May next year, showcasing thousands of items in its collection, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts Director Lin Chi-ming (林志明) said on Wednesday.

The center also plans to hold international exhibitions in the future to promote the culture of photography at home and abroad, Lin said.

“Photography is an art and an important source of national memory,” Lin said.

Among the center’s collection are precious glass and film negatives and photographs that the museum has been collecting since 2016, another museum official said.

The collection includes photographs taken in Taiwan in 1869 by American photographer St Julian Hugh Edwards (1838-1903) and Scottish photographer John Thomson (1837-1921).

The center is close to Taipei Railway Station, in a building that originally housed the office of a Japanese shipping company during the Japanese colonial period, according to the Web site of the National Taiwan Museum, which also had a role in the center’s planning.

After Japan’s surrender in World War II, the building was taken over by Taiwan Navigation Co and renamed Tai Hang building.

The building then housed a variety of government transport offices throughout the years until it was given to the Ministry of Culture by the National Property Administration after the Taiwan Provincial Highway Bureau moved to a new location in 2013.

Lin announced the soft opening of the center during the launch of a series of books titled Photographers of Taiwan in Taipei.

The six books, which are published by the museum , contain the works of six established Taiwanese photographers — Liu An-ming (劉安明), Ho Huei-guang (何慧光), Wong Ting-hua (翁庭華), Huang Chi-ying (黃季瀛), Hsu Jen-shiu (徐仁修) and Quo Ying-sheng (郭英聲).