National Palace Museum, Taipei

23 June 2007

I was alone in Taipei during last weekend. Instead of roaming around the electronics market, I decided to visit National Palace Museum, which was opened recently after four years of renovation.

About National Palace Museum:
This museum holds world’s largest collection of Chinese artifacts. There are some 7,00,000 of them and the museum has only space to display 15,000 items. The displays are rotated every three months. So, every time you go, you can see completely new items.

The collections originally were in Beijing’s forbidden city. During World War II, when Japanese occupied China, these items were moved from place to place in crates. The world war ended, but soon after (1949) the communists defeated the existing government in China. The government then retreated to Taiwan with these collections. The communists criticized the government for “stealing” the collections but it would have been doubtful whether these would have survived the Cultural Revolution in 1960’s, which swept across China, destroying everything associated with pre communist past. Finally, in 1965, the museum was opened in Taipei to display these collections for general public.

The museum was quite huge and boasted of having collections, which date 8000 years earlier. I first took some time to have a brief idea about the history of China, and then to appreciate the collections. There was English translation for each item, which helped a lot. The artifacts were mainly made of jade, bronze, porcelain, lacquer ware and enamel. In addition there was a big collection of original documents and books by the old Chinese rulers. Since photography was prohibited, I could not take any snaps.

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