Getaway Brigade

National Palace Museum

During our recent trip to Taiwan, we had the opportunity to briefly visit the National Palace Museum in Shilin, Taipei. The museum is home to an immense collection of artifacts and artwork, each of which requires several minutes to observe and enjoy. We spent a day at the museum and saw only a fraction of the exhibits on display. There are, in fact, more than 696,000 pieces spanning 8,000 years of Chinese history in the museum’s collection, of which 3,000 are on display at any given time. One could spend a lifetime visiting the museum and on each visit discover something new!

Taiwan's National Palace Museum

Nearing the entrance to Taiwan’s National Palace Museum.

The National Palace Museum in Taiwan is closely linked to the Palace Museum in China. Each houses one half of the same collection split more than 60 years ago. During the Chinese Civil War, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek ordered the evacuation of the artifacts from the Forbidden City in China to Taiwan. More than 2,900 crates of artifacts were shipped over 14 months before the Communist army seized control of the Palace Museum and the evacuation was stopped.

Watchful Statues

A statue watches over the entrance to the National Palace Museum.

Photography is not allowed inside the museum—and after carrying the dead weight of my camera around for the entire day I strongly suggest leaving your camera at the hotel!—but I found this restriction to actually be quite liberating. The intricate details in each of the artifacts is nearly unfathomable, and had I tried to take photographs, I simply would not have been able to enjoy each exhibit. An ivory ball sculpture, for example, still puzzles and inspires me. There are 21 layers carved from a single piece of elephant ivory, each capable of rotating independently of the others. (How the artist achieved such precise detail baffles me!) This type of ingenious craftsmanship is present in each of the pieces on display, from the ceremonial bronze artifacts to the famous jade carvings of pork and cabbage.

View from the Top

The view from the restaurant at the top of the National Palace Museum.

During our visit, we took a short break for lunch to rest and recharge before continuing our journey into the next wing of exhibits. On the upper floor of the museum is a restaurant that is quite good and, compared to similarly situated restaurants in the U.S., very reasonably priced. The view from here is also worth the visit.

Dinos and Food

Our traveling dino friends enjoying lunch at the National Palace Museum

Statue Looking Forward

Another watchful statue.

National Palace Museum at Sunset

The end to our day at the National Palace Museum.

It is difficult to fully capture a visit to the National Palace Museum in a post. The visit left a lasting impression and appreciation for the history and achievements of the Chinese people that words cannot describe. Have you been to the National Palace Museum? What exhibits were your favorites?

A Compass Rose

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  • Alex on September 3, 2013 at 7:57 am.

    Thanks for this. I will have to put it on our list of things to do when we visit.

  • Mallory on September 7, 2013 at 10:51 pm.

    I love museums! As much as I want to take pictures at museums (or at any site), I think it’s always the best not to take pictures since you get to soak up the atmosphere more. Of course, I want to capture what’s happening and keep them as memories, so it’s hard to stray away from taking pictures.

    • Bryce McLaughlin on September 7, 2013 at 11:20 pm.

      Likewise, Mallory. Often times the memories are more important than the photos. We can miss so much from behind a camera that it’s good to set it aside every now and then.

  • Bonnie Rose @ A Compass Rose blog on September 9, 2013 at 5:47 am.

    I love how beautiful it is set there in the lush greens! Gorgeous location. Thank you for linking up with me for Travel Tuesdays, hope to see you linking up tomorrow!

    Bonnie Rose | A Compass Rose an expat lifestyle blog

    • Sharon Su on September 9, 2013 at 11:44 am.

      Hi Bonnie! Yes, I’ve got a post in the works I’ve been working on for a while, and I’m really excited to share it via the linkup tomorrow! Happy Monday!