Friday, August 6, 2010

National Palace Museum

We spent a morning at the enormous National Palace Museum. My get-into-museums-free card worked! As I knew it would! Henceforth I ask not good fortune. I myself am good fortune.

Thanks for the aerial shot, Wikipedia. Sans wide-angle lens and/or helicopter, I was unable to manage a complete shot of the main-building. Awesome fact: the museum is built into a mountain! And what could be more perfect than what is essentially a cave-museum for the long term preservation of these objects? Nothing!

The National Palace Museum was established in 1925 as the Palace Museum in Beijing, in mainland China, and was formed from the collections of the former Imperial family. These included ceramics, paintings, calligraphy, sculptures, rare books, jade, and various decorative art objects.

In the 1930s, to prevent them from falling into Japanese hands, the most important parts of the collection were evacuated to several different cities. This conflict, the Second Sino-Japanese War, merged into the Second World War, which was followed by a continuation of the Chinese Civil War.

At this point in time, recognizing that the Communists were winning, the Nationalists decided to take the best 900,000 pieces of already-crated cultural patrimony to Taiwan: biting their thumbs at Mao and ensuring that everything made it through the subsequent decades (Cultural Revolution and whatnot).

Welcome gate.

Liang gives me a touristy-V sign.

Umbrella? This is not a rain umbrella, but a UV umbrella! This is probably the singular most popular accessory I have seen Taiwanese women (of all ages) carrying. And so useful. How could I resist buying one? Though I haven't been brave enough to carry it around Philly yet.

Cultural locales in Taiwan involve a number of white-paved eternal courtyards. I have four words to say about that. More. Reflecting. Pools. Needed.

The National Palace Museum has the most awesome collection highlights known to humankind. You can check them out online, collection highlights. fyi, for ease of rapid-fire museum going, as I do when traveling (for evidence of this please consult the archives), consult the museum websites prior to going. You not only get the info on hours and any free admission days, but there is usually a good bit dedicated to collection highlights.

The Jade Cabbage. Smaller than an actual cabbage, but attracting Mona Lisa sized crowds, faces all pressed up against the glass of the vitrine. Artistically shot documentaries playing nearby. The most amazing gift shop items I have ever seen. It was all I could do to not purchase every single one of those little cabbage models, those mini-cabbage tipped ear scrapers, those large plush cutsey cartoon sleeping cabbages...

The Meat Stone. This piece is terrifyingly realistic.

Links above are to the National Palace Museum webpages on the pieces.


Mum said...

That museum and grounds look amazing. It is so beautiful and grand! All the visitors must have been inside crowded around the miniatures because there doesn't appear to be many as you approached the museum.

DPLK said...

I heart that meat stone--it looks so tasty in real life. The reproductions in little trinket forms were pretty gross-looking, though. The cabbage is definitely more easily miniaturized and cartoon-ified than a piece of meat. Too bad we couldn't take pictures inside, sigh.