This is the newly-renovated National Palace Museum, which currently houses several special exhibits in Northern Sung Painting and Calligraphy, Ju Ware from the Northern Sung Dynasty and Sung Dynasty Rare Books in celebration of it’s re-opening. For more information, you can visit their website at www.npm.gov.tw
This morning we woke up to rain, which dashed our plans of returning to the Su-Hua Highway on Taiwan’s eastern coastline for another long day of scenic driving. So, we fell back on our contigency plan and decided to go to The National Palace Museum instead. With maps and Lonely Planet in tow, we were pretty confident that we would be able to find our way there. John has a great sense of direction. I, on the other hand, have a hard time telling east from west and north from south.
We arrived in Taipei shortly before 2pm in a state of great anticipation, only to discover that the museum was not where the guide book said it was. No matter. We decided to drive around a bit because we knew it was in the vicinity. We stopped to ask directions a few times and kept expecting to see signs for The National Palace Museum. Yeah. Right. Wishful thinking.
The confusion and chaos of Taiwan’s road signs aren’t anything new to us. Taiwan’s road signs are next to useless as far as I’m concerned. However, today was the first time we’ve been completely hung up on them. We finally stopped at a local cop shop to ask them to point us in the right direction, which they did with unfailing hospitality and friendly smiles. My sister will be pleased to know that Taiwanese police officers are as nice and generous with their time as her police brethren in Arnprior, Canada.
The museum grounds are immaculately-kept. Unfortunately, Chihshan Garden was closed and we weren’t able to walk the garden grounds. This photo showcases the British Museum and Museum Library.
We drove around a bit more and were able to find every other museum except the one we were looking for. We saw signs for the Yangmingshan Flower Festival, the Science Museum, the Astrological Museum and Sea World, but ne’er a glimpse of The Natioanal Palace Museum. As chance would have it, just as we were ready to give up and head to Fin’s Sea Aquarium, which was our back-up, back-up plan, we finally found ourselves in front of the magnificent gates of The National Palace Museum a full hour after arriving in the Shi-lin District.
For those who are interested or want to avoid a hassle, there are two buses that run from the Shi-lin MRT station. You can jump on the #255 or the #304 and both will drop you off at the museum.
John and I usually walk, rent bikes or motorcycles to get around while we are traveling. To date, this is how we’ve traveled in every country we’ve visited in Asia. We’ve always had a wonderful time trying to find ‘the right direction’. It’s one of the joys of traveling for us and always leads us somewhere that isn’t in the guidebook. We have been known to travel along bus routes to find places as well. Whatever gets you there, right?
Today, in addition to discovered this treasures help with the National Palace walls, we were also able to explore a bit more of Yangmingshan and the Shi-lin District. Now we know where the National Palace Museum is and we can return at anytime. Just as reading a book, or watching a movie again, returning to a place you’ve already journeyed to are always eye-opening. I love being able to re-discover the things that drew me to a place in the first place.
When we finally arrived, it was shortly after 3pm and the museum closed at 5pm, so we bustled inside. Our Lonely Planet guide quoted admission prices at $80NT, but the price has doubled. No matter. We still thought it was a great deal and money well spent for the time that we were there. We were a little disappointed that the museum doesn’t allow cameras, but we expected that we’d have to adhere to this rule. It is, after all, a museum.
Two hours passed quickly for us, but we were still able to see most of the exhibits in the main hall. I’ll follow up this article with my thoughts and comments on the exhibits within The National Palace Museum later this week. We really enjoyed ourselves and are looking forward to returning sometime in the future to check out the Brisith Museum and, weather permitting, the garden grounds.
My only complaints about the museum are this:
Several of the exhibits were closed. In particular, we were disappointed that we weren’t able to see the Splendors of Ch’ing Dynasty Furniture (1800-1901)
We didn’t like the rather large and noisy tour groups which seem to be everywhere all at once. We rarely had a moment to ourselves and often found ourselves pushed out of the way. I found it frustrating to see people crowded in front of displays and chatting about other things. Museums, for me, are like libraries. They should be places where people can go to admire the art and quietly contemplate. There is nothing more annoying that listening to loud and raucous voices while you are looking at prehistoric pottery over 5000 years old. This seems to be the norm with museums in Asia though. Taiwan is no exception. We’ve encountered this problem everywhere in Asia.