Visit Taiwan’s National Palace Museum

Asia - Editor - 06 October 2008

Visit Taiwan’s National Palace Museum

Situated in Taipei, Taiwan’s National Palace Museum houses more than 655,000 ancient Chinese artifacts and artworks, and is considered to one of the largest and finest collections of its kind in the world. The majority of the items on display come from the private collections of China’s ancient emperors spanning many dynasties, providing visitors with fascinating insight into the complex history of this part of the world.

Visitors to Taiwan’s National Palace Museum can expect to see displays of superb examples of bronze castings, calligraphy, porcelain, ceramics, jade carvings, scroll paintings, documents and rare books. Many of the pieces on display have a human interest story behind them. For example, one of the more notable items in the museum is a cabbage carved from a single piece of jade that is shaded from grey to green. With its green inner leaves and grey outer leaves, complete with two red katydids (cricket-like insects) perched on top, the intricate carving is incredibly realistic. The cabbage symbolized purity of family, while the katydids symbolized fertility. It was part of the dowry of one of Emperor Guangxu’s concubines, dating back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

On the left side of the main museum hall is the Chih-shan Garden, showcasing many of the unique elements of the art of traditional Chinese gardening. The combination of little bridges, pavilions, flowing streams, winding pathways and lush greenery create an atmosphere of tranquility for visitors to enjoy. The pillars of the pavilion are decorated with verses skillfully carved out in calligraphy, adding to the charm of the garden. To the right of the main museum hall is the Chih-te Garden with bridges and ponds, surrounded by fragrant lotus and osmanthus plants.

In the past, the collection at Taiwan’s National Palace Museum formed part of a bigger collection kept in Beijing, but during the final years of the Chinese Civil War (April 1927-May 1950), as ordered by General Chiang Kai-shek, the key pieces of the collection were moved from Beijing to Taiwan. Upon the victory of the Communist Party in China, the museum was split, with the Palace Museum remaining in Beijing’s Forbidden City, while a new building was constructed in Taipei for Taiwan’s National Palace Museum. The museum building was completed in August 1965 and has been expanded and renovated over the years to accommodate the huge collection, until the entire museum as it now stands was reopened on Christmas Day in 2006. Although the museum exhibits occupy three floors of the four floor building, there is insufficient space to display the entire collection at one time, and the exhibits are rotated every three months.

A visit to Taiwan’s National Palace Museum is both educational and awe-inspiring and should be on your list of places to visit when you travel to Taiwan.


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