Thursday, July 17, 2008

National Palace Museum, Taipei

Taipei's National Palace Museum, located in the Waishuanghsi neighborhood of the Shihlin District, is the pride of Taiwan. It ranks as one of the four best museums in the world, in a class with the Louvre, the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The museum holds the world's largest collection of Chinese artifacts, around 700,000 items in all. Since the museum only has space to display around 15,000 pieces at any given time, the majority of the treasures are kept  protected in air-conditioned vaults buried deep in the mountainside. The displays are rotated once every three months, which means 60,000 pieces can be viewed in a year and it would take nearly 12 years to see them all. 

Some of the oldest artifacts in the collection of the museum are pieces of prehistoric pottery over 5,000 years old. The vast majority of these art objects are from the private collection of China's emperors.
Included in the collection are artifacts made from jade, bronze, porcelain, lacquerware and enamel. There are also tapestry and embroidery, and many priceless documents and books containing excellent examples of ancient Chinese calligraphy.

There are tours in different languages and for the handicapped. A multimedia slide show is presented daily in both Chinese and English languages. October is the best time to visit.

The museum provides a handheld audio tour system called INFORM. This system enables visitors to create a personalized guided tour of the museum. You can simply walk through the galleries, choose the highlighted exhibits which interest you and learn about them in your own pace.

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