National Palace Museum

What do you all think of the National Palace museum in Taipei? This may just be a dumb question, but since I’ve never been there, don’t know what it’s like. Believe it or not, I lived in Taipei twice, for a total of 1 1/2 years, and not once visited the museum. But, back then, I had no taste for art. I’ve improved some, since I took an Art of Asia course in college since then. I now have an appreciation for mostly art history and impressionist art. Luckily, I live near the Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C., so I get to see a lot of great art from China.

Does the National Palace Museum have Taiwanese art from historical times? I’ve never even heard of ancient art from Taiwan, so am curious what kinds of things came out of Taiwan in history.


Here ya go, Bub.

Originally posted by Peter Schwartz: Does the National Palace Museum have Taiwanese art from historical times? I've never even heard of ancient art from Taiwan, so am curious what kinds of things came out of Taiwan in history.

I don’t think it has much artifacts of Taiwan. But that’s the place to go if you want to see Chinese artifacts. CKS didn’t want thousands years worth of Chinese civilization to fall into the hands of Japanese or Communists. So, KMT packed them up in hundreds of crates and shipped around Mainland during and after WWII. Eventually, they arrived in Taiwan of with very little damage. The collection stayed in storage for many years until the KMT realize that it may be “a while” before they go back to Mainland.

Although the Communist claimed that they were stolen from China, people wonder how much of the collection would’ve survived the culture revolution.

I heard those stories about artwork being smuggled out of mainland China during the Cultural Revolution. It’s really sad that had to be done.

Back to part of the question I asked initially. So, there really is little art of any form that came out of Taiwan historically (I’m thinking about b.c. to about the Japanese occupation)?


Palace Museum’s great if you like plates.


The National Palace Museum (Gugong) doesn’t have anything to speak of made in Taiwan during the period you mentioned.

It does have the greatest collection of Chinese art anywhere in the world.

Aren’t there other museums in Taiwan with Taiwanese art?

By the way, I heard that the KMT of the past, perhaps they feel the same way now too, did not want to highlight Taiwanese art and would not have favored this sort of museum.

Well, I heard the items on display at Palace Museum are replicas and the real stuff is kept in vaults down below the complex. Hmmmm…always wondered if this was true.

But, I prefer the History Museum on Nanhai as it’s smaller, not so many kiddy tours, and you can get through it in an hour or so. There’s also a lovely teahouse on the fourth floor which overlooks the botanical garden lotus pond.
They have loads of good exhibits there from time to time. Mesopatamia, Rembrandt, Tibetan art, etc.

And the Fine Arts Museum on Jungshan is fun when they have weird modern art exhibits. Don’t go on Monday, they’re closed. But check the newspapers about exhibitions in any of the museums before going.
Palace Museum is too huge to see in one afternoon and really appreciate it. Would recommend going every so often to take in different parts of it (jade, tang dynasty ceramics, etc)

I think the stuff in the Palace museum is real but they rotate the exhibitions every 3 and 6 month (depending on the category) because they have just too much stuff, so it doesn’t fit all at once into the exhibition area.
Thus the items not on display are stored in the vaults.

IMHO the security is too tight for replicas but who knows, I could have been fooled!?

The purpose of the National Palace Museum in Taibei is to preserve and display artifacts that were originally in the Imperial Palace (Forbidden City or Zijincheng) in Beijing. If you go to the Forbidden City (now renamed the Imperial Palace Museum or Gugong) in Beijing, you will get the feeling that it is rather empty, because most of the artifacts that were originally in it are here in Taibei. They were not stolen by the KMT, but preserved by them from likely plunder by Japan. It is a matter of speculation whether anything left by the Japanese would have been damaged during the Cultural Revolution, because the Imperial Palace Museum was locked up to protect it from marauding red guards, as were some other places like the Lama Temple (Yonghegong) in north-eastern Beijing. The person usually credited with protecting these places is the late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. Apparently not all the Imperial Palace art is in the National Palace Museum. Someone told me that some of it is stored in not very good conditions somewhere near Shida. If China ever retakes Taiwan by force, the People’s Liberation Army is sure to ship the whole lot back to Beijing. In the case of peaceful reunification, however, I think China would want most of the stuff back, but leave Taiwan with at least enough to maintain a permanent exhibition in the National Palace Museum.

The National Palace Museum does exhibit some other things. When I went there, they had some Roman art on show. Also, they have some temporary exhibtions in the wings. As to Taiwanese art, Taiwan was culturally rather peripheral in imperial China. If Taiwan did produce anything really exquisite, you might expect it to have found its way to the emperor’s collection in Beijing. I would say the best historical Taiwanese art I have seen is temple carvings, which can be seen in temples around the island.

There was some major loss of face not so long ago when some of the jade was discovered to be fake and actually acquired theough corruption (now THERE’S a surprise!) on the part of museum staff.

I think someone was even forced to resign over the issue, but my memory’s hazy and I can’t be bothered to search for any possible links.

That being the case, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a great deal of the stuff they have is fake.

Remember who it was that stole the stuff and humped it all over China for several years.

Fuck fuckitty, just remembered. Not the National Palace Museum but some other one in Taipei. Disregard above post.

Aren’t there other museums that exhibit Taiwanese art and artifacts?

By the way, I had an idea for the Taiwan government to get the CCP monkey off their back for good by making a treaty and giving back all of the art in the National Palace Museum as well as offering the CCP a price per ping for the whole island. Hahaha, think it would work?

I just found out today that there is a professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, that does research on Taiwanese art history. He’s in Taiwan right now, but should be back in a few weeks. In the meantime, I’m going to e-mail him and ask if he can suggest a book that discusses Taiwan’s art history that I can read on the side. Just in case anyone wants to know his name, it’s Jason Guo (the people I talked to pronounced it “Go,” but I take it it’s probably Guo). I’m not a huge art buff, and only started taking an interest in art at all just a year ago or so. But, it does seem a little interesting what kind of art was produced centuries or thousands of years ago. I don’t know how long the indigenous groups have been in Taiwan, but I take it they have produced some art, even if it’s primitive, long ago.


The best time to visit the Palace museum is during the fall months when the 100 or so best and most famous works of Chinese art are displayed. Actually only about 20 or 30 are displayed each year so it takes about 4 years to see the entire collection. Last year I was pleased to note that I had seen some of the paintings years before. Great! I have completed one round. I should be able to claim some sort of prize.

The Chang foundation museum has a fabulous library of Chinese art books. Some are even in English. You can enter the library and browse during normal museum hours. I don’t know if you can borrow books though. The museum also sometimes has very interesting exhibitions.

And Bri, quit comparing the greatest collection of Asian art in the world to a Working House outlet.

In terms of “Taiwanese” art, one probably should be looking in the Aboriginal Museum which is practically across the road from the NPM. If you’re interested in learning about how the collection arrived in Taiwan, there’s a presentation model on the 3rd(?) floor that illustrates the entire history. If you take one of the tours, it’s one of the stops.

In any case, NPM is already starting major rennovation so go now before they close too much down. Next year, they will only have 15 exhibition rooms open during rennovation.

There was a relevant article in today’s New York Times.

Reuniting China Along Artistic Lines By KEITH BRADSHER

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Dug into the side of a mountain for fear of an attack from mainland China and heavily decorated with Taiwanese flags, the National Palace Museum here has long carried the stigma in art circles of being too politicized to be a suitable repository for the world’s finest collection of Chinese art.

The Palace Museum has dedicated itself to building national legitimacy and even producing political propaganda. The exhibits have long emphasized the unity of China and Taiwan and have stressed the cultural achievements of China’s dominant Han ethnic group to the exclusion of others.

The collection’s presentation reflects its history. Chiang Kai-shek sent the cream of the Chinese Imperial Palace’s collection here shortly before losing China’s civil war to the Communists in 1949. His Nationalist soldiers and other retainers, virtually all Han Chinese from the mainland, ran the collection as a government ministry for the next half century. But with the Nationalist Party’s fall from power in Taiwan, the museum has begun to change. Paintings and busts of Chiang Kai-shek have been removed. An ambitious construction project will soon begin, creating more space for tour groups and lectures instead of reception halls for diplomats and politicians.

“I hope to change this museum from political to art,” said Tu Cheng-sheng, the museum’s new director. “I cannot say this museum has not changed already, but I still work hard to change it further.”

The rest of the article is here:

A bloke called Christopher Wood, who wrote the screenplay for the James Bond flick Moonraker, also wrote a book called Taiwan, a pulp fiction potboiler about a bunch of foreigners robbing the Nat’l Palace Museum.

Very funny indeed, although its not supposed to be.

Its got the lot – inscrutable Orientals galore, Beitou brothels, a disgruntled editor on an English-language daily, a Yue Loong car chase down the Suao-Hualien highway, a typhoon… altogether a ripping yarn.

there are some Taiwanese art museums or fine art museums throughout the island. You can find some names on the website of Council for Cultural Affairs, Executive Yuan, but this specific information is only given in Chinese, no English version.

In Taipei, for example, JuMing Museum (, JuMing is an amazing Taiwanese sulptor, respected as a national treasure. His TaiChi stone sculpure serials are well-known. YuYu Yang is another good sculptor, Li’s teacher, actually. YuYu Yang Fine Art Museum (TEL:23961966)is located in Chungqing S. Rd. But I’m not sure if his works has Chinese style or Taiwanese style, maybe both.

Li TienLu Pupet Museum(TEL:26364715, 28815633) is another. Also, you cna tell what the exhibition of Shung Ye Meseum of Formosan Abrigines (TEL:28412611, near the Palace Museum) is like just by its name.

In Miao Li County, there is SanYi Wood Scupture Museum. In NanTo County, there are Snake Kiln( or for pottery making (visitors can make their own pottery there)and Puli Wine Craft Museum.