National Palace Museum Sun-Thur 8:30am-5:30pm, F-Sat 8:30am-9pm; NT$250. Garden: Tu-Sun 8:30am-5:30pm; NT$20; free with museum admission.
Built like a fortress, this fully modernized museum has a massive concrete courtyard surrounded by trees. The collection spans China’s 5,000-year-history and is the world’s largest of Chinese art. Some of the 696,000 pieces in the permanent collection date back 10,000 years to the Neolithic age, and only 3,000 pieces are on display.
The museum was founded in 1925 in the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, from which it derives its name, and it was then part of the Chinese emperor’s collection. Items were moved to Taiwan in 1933 to escape war damage. Additional precious objects were sent here during the civil war in China in 1948.
The tourists come in droves, so arrive early on a weekday if you can. There is both a ticket line and a security line. Backpacks must be checked, and no photos are permitted. An audio tour is recommended but not always available. Most signs are written in both traditional Chinese and English. Most group tours move through the museum’s three floors quickly, but if on your own allow three to four hours.
The museum’s crown jewel is a piece of carved jade in the shape of a Chinese cabbage, with details like tiny carved insects on its leaf. The other must-see item is the revered “Meat-Shaped Stone,” a 200-year-old sculpture carved from jasper stone into the shape of Dongpo pork. It reminded me of a hunk of bacon. Be forewarned. Both of these items are very small, about the size of a fist, and the lines to see them are very long.
Three restaurants are on site. Note that this museum is away from downtown Taipei and not directly accessible by the subway.
|entrance to National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan|
|Meat-Shaped Stone souvenir at National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan|
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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers