June 20, 2011
Taipei’s National Palace Museum, in the suburbs of Taipei, has been called one of the premier sites of human culture. From the Song Dynasty on, China’s emperors were avid collectors of this land’s finest artworks and many of these treasures are on display here. The treasure trove of priceless artifacts became public property with the advent of China’s republican period in the early 1900s, and the National Palace Museum was opened in Beijing in 1925. Later in 1948, most of the collection was safely moved to Taiwan during the height of the Chinese Civil War. In 1965, it went back on public display in an impressive new home – the Zhongshan Museum which is now called the National Palace Museum.
The museum entrance has a bronze statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, a Chinese revolutionary and former president after the revolution. It was unveiled in 2010 to commemorate Dr. Sun’s life.
In its 40-plus years here, the Taipei facility has continually been upgraded to keep up with advances in museum facilities and technique. Today, visitors are provided a world-class aesthetic and cultural experience. There are over 7 hundred thousand pieces in the collection. Only a portion of this is on display at any given time, with the rest stored in massive cooled vaults dug right into the mountainside behind the museum.
On display is a 17th century reproduction of the 12th century masterpiece “Along the River During Qingming Festival”, one of the many paintings on display. The Qing dynasty Jadeite Cabbage has been called the most famous masterpiece of the entire National Palace Museum. “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains” is one of the few surviving works by the painter Huang Gongwang. The electronic version makes the painting come alive with computer animated little people and animals going about daily life.
In addition to the computer version, we were in luck as when we visited, both the shorter and longer piece of the original painted by Huang Gongwang in the 14th century were reunited and on display together for the first time. A painting of Four Immortals from the Southern Song dynasty was also on display.
The core of the treasury today remains the imperial collection, but it also includes priceless works from the cultures of other peoples beyond China’s, including those of Taiwan.
After perusing the museum’s impressive collection, we venture outside in the summer sun to admire some of the architecture surrounding the complex. A remarkable bronze sculpture was installed between the entryway staircases in August of 1993. On each side of the main stone walkway entrance to the musuem is a quiet formal garden. The entryway is adorned by a wonderful solid marble archway.