Visit to two 228 museums in Taipei

Relief in the Taipei 228 Museum

The Taipei 228 Memorial Museum (台北二二八紀念館) reopened in February this year after being closed for almost a year for renovations. The reopening created some controversy over how the new exhibits interpreted the events of 228. On Sunday I went to visit the museum to see for myself how it had changed.

I had visited the museum about five times since my first visit in 2007 so I had a good understanding of the previous layout and content of the exhibits. The first thing I found on arriving was that the audio guide, which was previously available in English and several other languages, was not available. The staff said that it wasn’t ready yet and did not know when it would become available. All the exhibits are described in Chinese characters with only a small amount of English and Japanese. Continue reading

Shung Ye Museum marks 15th anniversary

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The Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines (順益台灣原住民博物館) celebrated its 15th anniversary yesterday. The day was marked by the opening of a special exhibition from Japan.  The exhibition contains artifacts from the National Museum of Ethnology in Japan. This marks the first time artifacts from the museum have ever been returned to their country of origin for an exhibition.

In the afternoon speeches were given by Eric Yu (游浩乙), Director of the Shung Ye Museum, Lin Chiang-I (林江義), Deputy Minister of the Council of Indigenous Peoples and the Director of the Japanese Museum of Ethnology. Indigenous students from Xizhi Primary School also performed a short play. Continue reading

Lee Ming-tiao’s photos at TFAM

The Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM; 臺北市立美術館) currently has an exhibition of photography by Lee Ming-tiao (李鳴鵰). Lee is one of Taiwan’s most influential photographers and the exhibition provides a comprehensive look at his life’s work.

The exhibition begins with Lee’s black and white photos of Taiwan taken during the late 1940s and 1950s. These provide a unique look into life in Taiwan at that time. Many of the shots were taken in Xindian and along the Danshui River revealing a world now physically lost, but still living in the memories of many Taiwanese and Lee’s amazing photography.

The second part of the exhibition features travel photography, shot in color, from Lee’s travels around the world in the 1980s and 1990s. You can see a selection of the photos on the TFAM’s website. The photos are notable for both their technical excellence and fascinating subjects.

The exhibition runs until 5 April 2009. The museum is closed on 25 & 26 January and every Monday. Admission is free during the month of January.

Museums at NTU

Elephant and cassowary skeletons in the NTU Zoology Museum

The NTU Museums were inaugurated in November 2007 as part of a project to preserve and promote the university’s collections. The various small museums contain some wonderful exhibitions. It’s best to start your tour at the Agricultural Exhibition Hall (農業陳列館) where you can pick up a guide to all the museums. The Hall is located near the Xinsheng South Road gate of NTU. I haven’t visited all the museums yet, but I’ll write about the ones I have.

The Zoology Museum (動物博物館) features the skeletons of four animals. The Asian Elephant and Cassowary are pictured above. There are also Minke Whale and Short-finned Pilot Whale skeletons. There are also nine stuffed birds on display including a Crested Serpent Eagle, Collared Scoops Owl and Brown Wood Owl.

Cockcroft-Walton Linear Accelerator at NTU

The NTU Heritage Hall of Physics (物理文物館) has a Cockcroft-Walton Linear Accelerator as its centrepiece. This museum also has on display many old experimental apparatus and a working Geiger counter that you can test with a collection of rocks. Continue reading

Folk Arts Museum in Beitou

Taiwan Folk Arts Museum in Beitou preserves an old wooden Japanese villa

I have written about Beitou's museums before and now there is a new one to add to the list. The Taiwan Folk Arts Museum (北投文物館) recently reopened after being closed for five years for renovations. The wooden building that houses the museum was originally a club for Japanese officers. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs converted it into the Jia Shan Guest House after the war before it was later sold to a private owner and converted into a museum.

The two storey wooden building has been lovingly restored. It maintains all the features that would have been present during the Japanese era such as the courtyards and paper screens. The exhibitions include a range of items from the Japanese era as well as Taiwanese aboriginal artifacts. There is also another building which is a tea house, but it wasn't open when I was there. You can still walk around it and appreciate the Japanese aesthetic in the garden. 

Garden in the Folk Arts Museum in Beitou, Taipei City

The exhibits are all clearly labelled in Chinese and English. I borrowed an English-language audio guide which gives extra information for a self-guided tour. The museum is located at No. 32 Youya Road in Beitou (北投區幽雅路32號). It is open from 10:00 to 21:00 and closed on Mondays. Admission is NT$200. It has a restaurant, but I didn't check the menu. It is quite a walk up the hill to the museum so you might consider taking a bus or taxi. 

covered bridge in Beitou, Taipei City

This lovely covered bridge has been repaired since I last visited Beitou.

Sulphur Valley, a hot bed of volcanic activity on Yangminshan, Taipei, Taiwan

In the afternoon I wandered up to the Sulphur Valley (硫磺谷). It was cold and windy but the volcanic vents were still steaming and letting out sulphur fumes. Note the couple getting their wedding photos taken in the bottom right-hand corner of the photo.

Ethnology Museum at Academia Sinica

Display at the museum of the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

Last night our Culture and Ethnic Structure of Taiwan class at NCCU went on a field trip to the Institute of Ethnology (民族學研究所) at Academia Sinica (中央研究院). The museum is small but well organised and contains many interesting artifacts and models. Most of the displays are about Taiwan's indigenous people.

Siriya (Plains people) display at the Insitute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan

The display pictured above is labelled Pingpu (平埔族) or Plains peoples. The display relates to the Siraya, the people who lived on the plains around Tainan and were the first indigenous people in Taiwan to come into extensive contact with foreigners. Namely the Dutch who arrived in Taiwan in 1624. The red paper on the left is a land contract. It is written in Chinese, although other land contracts from that time can be found written in Sinkang, the romanised language of the Siraya developed by Dutch missionaries. 

Southwest China display at the Ethnology Museum, Academia Sinica, Taiwan

As well as the displays about Taiwan's indigenous people there is a section of the museum about the indigenous people of Southwest China. Academia Sinica was originally founded in China in 1928 and later reestablished in Taiwan after 1949. The museum also has a special exhibition area with displays about folk religion and Mazu in Taiwan. 

The museum is open to the public, but check the opening hours before you go. There is also a library which is open to the public, but we didn't have the chance to see it last night.  

*more photos at flickr.