The National Palace Museum (NPM), located in Taipei and Chiayi, Taiwan, has a permanent collection of nearly 700,000 ancient Chinese artifacts and artworks, from the Neolithic age to the modern era. Most are imperial pieces collected by Chinese emperors, making the NPM’s ancient Chinese art collection the largest and the finest in the world.
The NPM was originally established as the Palace Museum on October10, 1925, in Beijing, China. Due to the Chinese civil war, most of the finest collections were evacuated to Taiwan. The NPM was established in Taiwan in 1965 in order to house and exhibit these precious items.
The vast collection includes ancient Chinese paintings, calligraphy, bronzes, ceramics, jades, sculptures, manuscripts, rare books and other antiques. Among these are some well-known items, such as the famous jade cabbage (cuìyù báicài) and the “meat-shaped stone” (ròuxíngshí), are always on display.
The museum offers free guided tours in English at 10am and 3pm (book online). For visitors wanting to move at their own pace, the museum provides audio guides in Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, Hakka Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, German, Cantonese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Sign Language for NT$150 (£3.60) per rental.
Standard entrance costs NT$350 (£8.50) with international students with ID paying NT$150. Under 18s (of all nationalities) go free. National Palace Museum tickets are valid for visiting the southern branch for three months from the day of purchase. Visitors can use their Taipei EasyCard (similar to London Oyster cards) for quick, easy entrance.
EasyCards can be used on buses, the MRT (metro), mainline trains, some intercity buses and at government-run parking lots and roadside meters. They can also be used for making purchases in some coffee shops, all major convenience stores, for the Taipei YouBike rental scheme and entrance to Taipei Zoo. As ever in Taiwan, convenience is king.
Entrance to the National Palace Museum is free on New Year’s Day (Jan 1), Lantern Festival (variable), International Museum Day (May 18), World Tourism Day (Sept 27), National Day (Oct 10) and Taiwan Culture Day (Oct 17). The museum is open from 08:30 to 18:30 daily, extended to 21:00 on Fridays and Saturdays.
The museum can be reached from Shilin MRT station on the Danshui (red) line. Take exit 1 on to Zhongzheng Road and catch the R30 (Red 30) bus, minibus 18 or 19, or bus 255, 304 or 815. The journey takes about 15 minutes. From Dazhi MRT station on the Wenhu (brown) line take bus B13 (Brown 13).
The southern branch of the National Palace Museum is just 10 minutes’ drive from Chiayi High Speed Rail station. The approximately 70-hectare site includes the museum, a scenic park and lakes. The museum aims to provide a feast of Asian art and culture, reexamining the original NPM collection from a fresh perspective while supplementing exhibitions with new acquisitions and high-quality international loan exhibitions.
The southern branch of the NPM presents multi-cultural and diverse programs including educational activities and performance events to complete visitors’ cultural experience. The southern branch has a vision to enhance harmony and cultural understanding in Taiwan’s multicultural society.