Night at the Musuem

Night Day at the Musuem

1925
The National Palace Museum (NPM) was originally founded in1925 in the Forbidden City in Beijing, which explains why the word Palace is used in its name.

1931
Beginning in 1931 the collection was crated and moved into the hinterland of China to avoid the ravages of the impending Sino-Japanese War.

1949
In 1949, with civil war raging between the Nationalist and the Communist forces, the government shipped about 600,000 treasured works of art to Taiwan, and temporarily stored them in Yangmei, Taoyuan, and in Beigou of Wufeng, Taichung.

1965
It was not until 1965 when the collection was moved to their present home in the Waishuangxi area of Shilin, Taipei.

2007
The renovation of the museum, ongoing for several years, was pronounced completed with great fanfare in 2007.

Present
The National Palace Museum, with its roots firmly planted in Taiwan for more than half a century, has already evolved into a fully modernized museum. Not only are its facilities being continually upgraded, constant efforts are made to expand the collection, which now numbers more than 660,000 pieces, making it the finest collection of Chinese art and culture in the world.

Over the past few years, great effort has also been made to advance the Museum’s role in Taiwan’s National Digital Archives Program. Applying the latest digital technologies, the NPM’s displays and their role are being given a completely new makeover.

We thought this is extremely essential to the survival of the NPM as a cultural attraction. Visiting cultural attractions are often perceived as “old-fashioned” and “boring granny activities” by the younger generations of today’s society. By leveraging on the limitless power of information technology, the museum can touch the restless heartstrings of today’s discerning youth.

Ok. So this does not have the mechanically moving T-rexes or the talking Easter Island statues that you see in the American movie. But having given the Museum a walk-through, we feel confident to say that the whole establishment is very well organized, brimming with interesting displays, and definitely makes for a ¡°must visit¡± attraction for any tourist to Taipei.

One of our objectives of this blog is to provide that extra exposure to Taipei’s attractions to people of our generation. Most unfortunate though that the Museum has a No photography policy, and we were thus unable to take any photos of the exhibits and share our experience of in a pictorial form.

Nevertheless, here is a brief of our walk-through.

1. Started our visit from the Orientation Gallery located in the west wing of the main buildling.
2. Rare books and historical documents: located on the 1st floor of both the east and west wings. Gallery 103 in the east wing and Gallery 104 in the west wing regularly hold special exhibitions presented by the Department of Rare Books and Documents.
3. Painting and Calligraphy: located on the 2nd floor of the west wing. Permanent exhibitions include ¡°The Ancient Art of Writing and Forms and Aesthetics. The contents change every 3 months. In addition special exhibitions are held regularly.
4. Antiquities: located on the 3rd floor, there are well-preserved antiquities spanning from the Neolithic Age to the Han Dynasty, as well as carvings of the Ming and Qing dynasties. There is also an exhibition on the History of Chinese Ceramics.

The museum offers free guided tours in English at 10am and 3pm. We understand that tour contents vary with each guide, but all offer a good overview. If you prefer to move about at your own pace, audio guides are available in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean for NT100 at the audio guide counter.
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There is also the Zhishan Garden and the Chang Dai-chi’ien Residence, both located towards the right of the Museum and are open to visitors. However, due to the short duration of our trip, we had to sadly give these two places a miss.

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Just to put things into perspective, locals we spoke to claimed that a full day at the National Palace Museum is hardly enough; to properly enjoy Zhishan Garden would already take up a good part of your day’s visit!
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Our takeaway:
The National Palace Museum is like a sumptuous gourmet buffet made with the finesse ingredients, while the Zhishan Garden is like the accompanying salad bar. Like any buffet, make sure you have enough time (and stomach) to enjoy the spread.

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