The National Taiwan Museum (國立臺灣博物館) is located in the 228 Peace Park in Taipei. The last time I visited it was in 1999 so I thought today I must pay another visit and see what's changed.
There is one thing you can say about this museum. It really looks like a museum. It even has a woolly mammoth skeleton occupying the main entrance hall. The building was built by a Japanese architect in 1915. The style is based on Greek Doric architecture, hence all the massive pillars.The museum seems to have undergone quite a lot of renovations since my last visit. Gone is the dusty, dark old place that I remember; the interior looks very fresh and new.
The main exhibition occupying the whole ground floor was "Fieldwork, Artifacts, Illustration: The multi-facet world of Dr Chen Chi-lu's ethnological drawings". This exhibition was based on the work of Taiwanese anthropologist Chen Chi-lu (陳奇祿). Chen studied Taiwan's aborigines and the exhibition focuses on the artifacts he collected and illustrations he made. In the days before good photographic equipment was available illustrations were a key to accurately recording observations in the field.
There were many fascinating artifacts. Many of them were wooden carvings and they showed a high level of artistic skill. However, the commentary accompanying the exhibits told of how the field of anthropology moved beyond simply collecting artifacts to making more active observations of how people lived.
On the upper two floors there were more exhibitions. The second floor featured two main exhibitions: one about the flora and fauna of Taiwan and the other about Taiwan's aboriginal tribes. There was also a photo exhibition and on the third floor an exhibition about aboriginal folk tales.
Out in front of the museum there was a canoe from Orchid Island (蘭嶼) on display. It was good to return to this museum again and see how it has improved. It is very close to Taipei Station and the entry fee is only NT$20 so there is no excuse not to visit it if you have a little spare time in Taipei.