Tuesday, July 26, 2011

National Palace Museum

This afternoon Boje and I took a highly anticipated trip to Taipei’s National Palace Museum. We were excited to spend the day out of the rain, and after paying NT$160 each to get in we headed towards the exhibit entrance.

A museum employee stopped Boje on our way in, telling him to please leave his camera at the check-in counter because there is no photography allowed at the museum. He was just carrying the camera over his shoulder today and we had no backpack or purse to put it in for safekeeping, so naturally this idea made us both a little uncomfortable. She insisted we could not bring the camera in and walked away. Just as we were considering turning around to leave, she suddenly came back and produced a paper bag for us to stow the camera in as we walked around the museum! I was very grateful for her accommodating attitude. There was no way B would tolerate being separated from his camera, and I really didn’t want to shell out for cab rides and museum admission twice!

The NPM has a huge permanent collection of Asian works which used to be housed in the Forbidden City in Beijing. When war broke out between Nationalist and Communist groups in China, most of the collection was sent to Taiwan where it has remained since. We saw lots of beautiful pottery, jade carvings, calligraphy, and paintings as well as plenty of other beautiful artifacts commissioned to honour various emperors and deities of Asia’s past.

While many of the exhibits were interesting and beautifully curated, the museum itself has an awkward layout. There isn’t a natural flow to the order one might visit each room and so we frequently found ourselves backtracking through huge, swarming crowds while trying to find an exhibit we hadn’t yet seen.

B was a bit disappointed when trying to photograph the outside of the museum. The light wasn’t great today and we had low-lying clouds. We had a good time, but I think we had built up some unrealistic expectations about the NPM so we were a bit let down. That said, I do still think the museum is worth a look for people visiting Taipei!

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