Table of Contents
Viewing Major Events in Taiwan’ History through the Museum Collection
Both Big and Small, Ten facts of the Museum
Architectural Concepts Behind Our Building
Museum Leisure Trails
What the Permanent Exhibition Wants to Say
Taiwan, An Island on the Crossroads
An Island and a People Relying on the Oceans for Livelihoods
Coexistence and Competition Amid Mountains and Oceans
Depression and Dreams Under the New Order
Striding Towards Democracy
Museum for Everyone
Appendix _Children’s Hall
Explore Our Culture Hands On
Coordination and Planning: Ming-Shan Chiang, Exhibition Division Chief of National Museum of Taiwan History
Translation: Christopher J. Findler
Embracing National Museum of Taiwan History 2.0: From “This Land, This People” to “Taiwan, An Island on the Crossroads”
After five years of discussion and planning and 15 months of implementing those plans, the National Museum of Taiwan History reopened its doors to the public in January of 2021 with updated permanent exhibitions for visitors to enjoy. The timing of this exhibition guide has special significance, because it is coming out on the 10th anniversary of the museum’s opening and just after the museum’s upgrade to a third administrative entity.
The enhancements to the permanent exhibitions represent another important milestone for the National Museum of Taiwan History. The various aspects of this project not only serve to continue the museum’s honored tradition of being a “Museum for Everybody”, but also bring together achievements in the area of exhibitions accumulated over the past ten years. A few select examples follow:
1. A New Perspective on Public History
From the standpoint of democratization and popularization of knowledge, the National Museum of Taiwan History’s collections and research respond to the spirit of the times and reflect societal trends, while promoting the progressive values of social inclusive and museum accessibility through exhibition and educational activities to facilitate reconciliation and dialogue among various people groups.
2. A New Approach to Museum Historiography
Unlike traditional empirical historical research, which focuses on archival materials, museum historiography focuses on objects and displays, attach importance to daily life, local memory, and social dialogue, while emphasizing historical context, collaborative writing, and public participation.
3. Reflections on the Dialogue of Dualistic View of History
The museum’s permanent exhibition is structured on the general history of Taiwan. In addition to focusing on development trends in world history, we also focus on the life stories of ordinary people, presenting a dialectical meaning of macro and micro history through concrete objects and diverse contexts.
4. Digital Technology Experience
The updates incorporate a variety of display designs and applied technologies and make use of the museum’s invaluable audio-historical exhibits and 3D digital artifacts to offer visitors a multi-sensory experience, thereby realizing our service objective to provide the diversity and inclusive museum experience.
For those who are familiar with “Our Land, Our People: The Story of Taiwan”, the following features of the updated permanent exhibition which with the theme of “Taiwan, An Island on the Crossroads” are worthy of your careful appreciation and comments:
1. The Complicated Life Histories of Historical Figures
The life stories of those represented here, from Phoann Ta̍h-pí-lî, a Pingpu military officer of the Qing Dynasty, to a little Paiwan girl, from Chen Cheng-po and Ko Chi-hua, victims of the 228 Incident and the White Terror, to Lee Hui-mei, a Taiwanese dancer born in Japan, reflect the transitions in the island’s history and the glory of living.
2. Historical Narrative of Artifact Contributors
Through “You Too Can Make History”, the museum presents the landscape and historical trajectory of Taiwan through the eyes of important artifacts donated to the collection, such as Ms. Hsieh Chao-chih’s paintings, Mr. Lu Chi-ying’s diary, and Chen Sung-po’s photographs.
3. A Diverse Narrative of Historical Events
This update not only reflects the voices of different people, but also attaches importance to disparate perspectives on historical events. Through historical and spoken records of various figures, the audience is invited to reflect on issues, such as major civil unrest in Taiwan, wars, as well as aboriginal peoples and the modern state.
4. Interesting and Dynamic Narration Approaches
In exhibition narrations for young visitors, we present historical events of interaction between different people groups, such as indigenous people, Han Chinese, and foreigners with multimedia interactive games and animations.
From “This Land, This People” to “Taiwan, An Island on the Crossroads”, the National Museum of Taiwan History’s updates of the permanent exhibition have undergone a development process from growth to maturity, much like that in the fields of Taiwan history and museum studies. The revamping of permanent exhibitions and the upgrading of National Museum of Taiwan History represent the spirit of the times in the wake of democratization and localization in Taiwan and as the island faces the new challenge of “Taiwan in the World”. Let’s keep up the good work!
Director of the National Museum of Taiwan History
Prof. Dr. Lung-chih Chang