The Southern Branch of Taiwan’s National Palace Museum

Southern Branch of Taiwan's National Palace Museum.

Southern Branch of Taiwan's National Palace Museum. (Image: via Southern Branch of National Palace Museum)

Known for its rich collection of nearly 700,000 antiquities spanning about 7,000 years from the Neolithic to modern times, the National Palace Museum (NPM) located in northern Taiwan’s Taipei City is one of the largest and best museums in the world.

The memorial stone.
The distinctive bridge crossing the artificial lake is a great location to appreciate the beautiful building of the museum. (Image: via Southern Branch of National Palace Museum)

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To balance cultural resources between the north and the south, as well as enhance the development of arts, economy, education, and tourism in southern Taiwan, the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum was thus established in Chiayi County.

Taking up an area of about 70 hectares (173 acres), the Southern Branch was opened on a trial basis in December 2015, and was formally opened in August 2016 after approximately 15 years of planning and construction.

The museum compound was designed based on the inspiration from traditional Chinese painting styles.
The museum compound was designed based on inspiration from traditional Chinese painting styles. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

An exquisite giant architecture

Like an exquisite giant work of sculpture, the Southern Branch is a stunning compound. It was designed based on conceptual inspiration from the three traditional Chinese painting styles of nongmo (濃墨thick ink), feibai (飛白dry brush), and xuanran (渲染ink wash).

The lounge behind the entrance of the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum.
The lounge behind the entrance of the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Covering an area of 20 hectares (49 acres), the main building is composed of the east wing, the west wing, and the courtyard. The west wing is the Mo­yun Hall (墨韻樓), which symbolizes the solid mass (實量體) and is used for exhibition spaces and artifact archives.

An aerial view of the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum.
An aerial view of the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum. (Image: via Southern Branch of National Palace Museum)

The east wing is the Fei­bai Hall (飛白館), denoting the void mass (虛量體) that houses the lobby, the educational space, the restaurant, and the souvenir shop.

The walkway to the entrance of the museum.
The walkway to the entrance of the museum. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

The sloping entry walkway and the courtyard between the two wings represent xuanran (渲染). As the Southern Branch boasts the gateway to Asia, the three symbolic cursive strokes in fact represent the ancient civilization of China, India, and Persia. Furthermore, the museum compound’s two streamlined masses symbolize the cultural meaning of the dragon, elephant, and horse.

The museum boasts the gateway to Asia.
The museum boasts the gateway to Asia. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Beautiful park

Covering 50 hectares, the museum’s park comprises the Waterscape Garden (親水公園), Tropical Garden (熱帶公園), Festival Garden (慶典公園), Bird-viewing Platform, Waterfront Stage, Landscape Slide, and Artificial Lake.

The art installation titled 'Phoenix Touching Water.'
The art installation titled ‘Phoenix Touching Water.’ (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Additionally, there are many distinctive art installations displayed in the park, including the Ancient Column (Taiwan), Joy of Tea, Phoenix Touching Water (Taiwan), Ancient Molten Gold — A Brocade of Flowers (Taiwan), Spirit of Pumpkin (Japan), Timeless Waterfall (Japan), The Present (Vietnam), To the Best of My Mind (Iran).

The art installation titled 'Joy of Tea.'
The art installation titled ‘Joy of Tea.’ (Image: via Southern Branch of National Palace Museum)

Scenic arch bridge

There is also a scenic bridge crossing the southern part of the lake, which leads to the museum’s entrances at the courtyard between the two interlinked bow-shaped structures. It is a 141-meter single-span arch suggesting the idea of cursive script calligraphy.

The romantic bridge crossing the artificial lake in the park.
The romantic bridge crossing the artificial lake in the park. (Image: via Southern Branch of National Palace Museum)

Exhibitions

Though the Southern Branch was built mainly to showcase artifacts from diverse Asian civilizations, many of the masterpieces, including the Jadeite Cabbage, the Jade Duck, the Animal-shaped Zun Vessel, the Vase in the Shape of a Horned Fish, etc., are currently exhibited in the Southern Branch. Other exhibitions are as follows:

The walkway inside the exhibition rooms on the second floor.
The walkway inside the exhibition rooms on the second floor. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Permanent exhibitions

-A Space for Brush and Ink: Appreciating paintings and calligraphy in NPM’s collection

-Pleasing to the Senses: NPM Multimedia Experiences

-The Far-Reaching Fragrance of Tea: The art and culture of tea in Asia

-Imprints of Buddhas: The Buddhist art in the NPM’s collection

-Understanding Asian Art: Taking Taiwan as a foothold for gaining a perspective of Asia as a whole.

The Jadeite Cabbage is one of the most famous pieces in the museum.
The Jadeite Cabbage is one of the most famous pieces in the museum. (Image: via Southern Branch of National Palace Museum)

Special exhibitions

-The Khubilghan: The Incarnated Lamas of the Qing Dynasty and Related Artifacts

-Feast of Bronzes: Rituals and Music from Ancient Times

-Our Beloved Treasures: Masterpieces in the National Palace Museum Collection

-Curio Boxes of Qianlong Emperor

Curio boxes of the Qianlong Emperor.
One of the collections featuring curio boxes of the Qianlong Emperor in the museum. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

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