The last time I visited the National Palace Museum (NPM, 國立故宮博物院) was about four years ago. Since then the museum has undergone extensive renovations. I was keen to return and see how things had changed.
Friday's Taipei Times wrote, "The National Place Museum's reopening celebrations reflect the world-famous repository of Chinese treasures' new priority: to become a living cultural center." To celebrate the reopening since the new renovations the museum held an outdoor arts festival which finished today. They invited leading performance artists from Taiwan and Japan to perform. There was also an "Arts Fun Fair".
I arrived in the morning just in time to join the guided tour in English at ten o'clock. The tour guide was very informative. It is impossible to see everything in the museum in two hours. However, she selected some of the most important items and gave a very informative and in depth commentary on them. She also led the tour through the museum in chronological order.
The only disadvantage of the tour was that sometimes there was not enough time to see everything. It was helpful to get an overview though and I later went back on my own to revisit some of the items and exhibitions of special interest to me.
The new renovations to the museum have given it a more modern look. Still I was disappointed that there was not greater use made of multimedia technology. There were almost no interactive displays and nothing aimed at children. Another thing I would like to see is more information about how some of the artworks were made or more details about the history of the time to give them greater context. There was a section devoted to showing the method used for bronze casting, but I thought this could have gone into more detail. An article from the Taipei Times last December does say that "More digital and sound exhibitions are to come".
Still the museum's collection just about speaks for itself. There are many artworks of extraordinary beauty that really need no explanation to appreciate. There really is so much in the museum that it needs more than a full day to take everything in. I didn't have time to visit the special exhibition from the British Museum which is in a separate exhibition hall.
My visit to the museum complete, I headed out to check out the activities on the front plaza. These two lovely ladies dressed in Tang Dynasty (唐朝) costumes were handing out literature about Falun Dafa (法輪大法).
There were a range of stalls set up on the forecourt of the museum. They were mainly selling arts and crafts. Most of the things for sale were very modern and I would have liked to see some more traditional arts and crafts. The brochure promoting the festival says, "Many traditional handicrafts are transformed into a contemporary look to reflect 'Old is New' [whatever that means]." One man was doing ink brush paintings. He was very skillful and a crowd gathered around to watch him at work (picture below).