Taiwan Museum 100 years young


Fri, May 30, 2008 - Page 14

Established in 1908 by the Japanese colonial government, National Taiwan Museum (台灣博物館) has survived the vicissitudes of time to become the country’s oldest museum and the only one that was founded during the colonial period that still operates at its original site.

This year marks the museum’s centennial. Plenty of outdoor performances, fairs, concerts, exhibitions and film screenings have been put together to celebrate this historic event this weekend and beyond.

A tour inside and outside the landmark built during the Japanese occupation alone is worth the effort of trekking up to the 228 Memorial Park (二二八和平公園) where the museum is located. The building is modeled on Greek Doric-style architecture with a grand entrance, columns and stairs resembling those of an ancient Greek temple, and a 30m-high domed ceiling. In 1998, the Ministry of the Interior (內政部) declared the museum a national heritage site.

One hundred years of history can be a hindrance to innovation and renewal. To express its determination to keep up with the times while preserving tradition, the museum has invited indie-music outfits and musicians including Lin Sheng-xiang (林生祥), Totem (圖騰) and Tizzy Bac to create contemporary sounds from traditional tunes for the event. The concerts will take place on the plaza in front of the museum on Sunday afternoon from 2pm to 5pm.

In similar spirit, famous shops that have passed their 100th birthday will show off their innovative products tomorrow and Sunday. Participants include Wuan Chuang Food (丸裝醬油), Cheng Chi Chinese Medicine (誠記蔘藥), Chiu Chen Nan Bakery (舊振南餅舖) and Chyuan Fa Honey (泉發蜂蜜).

Meanwhile, whipping top and Chinese yo-yo performances will take place in the plaza amid an art market and Aboriginal handcraft fair. Tomorrow night at 6:30pm, an outdoor screening of Farewell My Concubine (霸王別姬) will kick off a series of classic film screenings that will take place every weekend until Aug. 2.

Concerts, performances and fairs aside, the highlight of the celebration is the commemorative exhibition entitled The Story of Collection in a Century: Special Exhibition of National Taiwan Museum (百年物語:台灣博物館世紀典藏特展). This will feature exhibitions on the museum’s main research fields including anthropology, zoology, botany and earth science, and a special exhibition of the museum’s treasures such as the island’s earliest map to date, a duplicate of the “yellow tiger on a blue ground flag” (藍地黃虎旗) used by the short-lived Republic of Formosa (台灣民主國) in 1895, and a cheat sheet for the imperial examinations from the Qing dynasty. The exhibition runs through Nov. 2. Admission is free until Sunday.