Tuesday, January 29, 2013

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National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

1/29/2013 Taiwan Explorer

The National Palace Museum 國立故宮博物院 in Taipei is one of the most famous and most visited museums in the world. The museum is actually an accidental offspring of the Palace Museum 故宫博物院 in Beijing's Forbidden City, because most of the artifacts were taken from there. Right after World War II ended in 1945, the civil War between the Chinese communists (CCP) and Chinese nationalists (KMT) resumed. After realizing, that they're losing, the nationalist government and its loyal soldiers (under the command of Chiang Kai-shek) retreated to Taiwan, which was at that time freed from Japanese occupation. Chiang believed, that it's better to evacuate the precious artifacts and relocate them to Taiwan, so that they don't fall into the hands of the communists. This is a very brief depiction of the complicated events of those tumultuous times, if you want to know more, read this article on the museum's homepage or check out Wikipedia, which explains it very well, too.

The National Palace Museum through the grand paifang.

I visited the museum a week ago for the first time despite living in Taipei for several years already. For some reason, other places always had priority, but this is about to change from now on. Because they rotate various exhibitions from their huge collections, I will definitely visit more often in the future.

The experience

Visiting the museum is fairly easy. You have to go to the Shilin MRT Station and go out at Exit 1. Then walk towards the Zhongzheng Road, right at the corner is a bus station, where several buses depart to the National Palace Museum (just keep your eyes on the led displays above the driver). Inside the museum there are several exhibitions on three floors, while on the fourth floor there is a restaurant (which I also visited). The regular admission fee is 160 NTD (4 Eur). One thing, that sours the experience a little bit is the crowdedness on the first floor. There are several groups of visitors (usually from China, Korea or Japan) with their guides moving from one place to another and they may well block your view or push you aside, when you're enjoying a specific item. I'm not sure, if there is any day of the week, that is less crowded (I visited on a Saturday afternoon), but since this is one of the top museums in the world, you can't expect too few people. On the second and third floor there are routes, that lead you from one room to another and there is staff, that regulates the crowds, which is good, but sometimes you have to wait for a while, before you can see a famous artifact.


Click on the photo to enlarge the National Palace Museum Map

See my photos from January 2013:

The big paifang to the palace.

The paifang in its full glory.

A guardian lion.

A long promenade leads up to the museum.

A side wing of the National Palace Museum.

Right there at the top is the restaurant.

A statue.

A view down on the garden.

This is the plaza in front of the main entrance.

A detail on the roof.

This is right at the main entrance. Further inside photos are prohibited.

Jadeite cabbage and gilt copper vase are one of the most popular and famous artifacts.

This is the restaurant on the 4th floor.

It's a very pleasant atmosphere with a great view.

We tried some traditional cookies and they were pretty tasty.

After the meal we went to the ground floor to check out some souvenirs. There is a big shop full of books, drawings, key chains and whatnot and some of them can cost over 2000 USD. I bought a book "100 Treasures of Emperors" for 600 NTD and I like it.

The museum after we left.

The National Palace Museum resource

One of the things, that impressed me a lot is the way the museum uses new technology to bring the old history closer to the visitors. Apparently a lot has changed in the recent years according to Cynthia Houng and the museum is not about to stop. A short while ago they have launched two Android apps (Discover NPM, NPM InSight) and soon after that an iOS app (Discover NPM). They even made a very popular video introducing these launches, that went viral on Taiwan's Facebook community:

An old Chinese painter trapped in modern Taiwan - very lovely video.

This is a screen shot from the museum's iOS app.

The iOS app is very informational, but it's not very smooth. It's also not yet optimized for iPhone 5 as I'm writing this and the size is a little big (225 MB), however I still recommend you to download it, it's quite useful. You can also follow the museum's Facebook page or download desktop wallpapers or subscribe to their YouTube channel.


View Taipei Map by MKL in a larger map

Map and useful information

▷ RELATED INFORMATION

Pinyin: Guólì Gùgōng Buówùyüèn
Related website: Homepage
My useful tips: Transportation in Taipei

▷ NEARBY SITES

National Taiwan Museum
National Museum of History

Always double check my information before use, blogging is just my free time activity; I can't be held liable for any loss, damage or discomfort occurred as a result of using my travel guides | Romanization in Taiwan

[My TAIPEI TRAVEL page][All photos by MKL, 2012]