National Palace Museum
The National Palace Museum is an art museum in Taipei, Taiwan. It is the national museum of the Republic of China, and has a permanent collection of over 677,687 pieces of ancient Chinese artifacts and artworks, making it one of the largest in the world. The collection encompasses over 8,000 years of Chinese history from the Neolithic age to the late Qing Dynasty. Most of the collection are high quality pieces collected by China's ancient emperors. In 2009, it was the 11th most visited art museum in the world. The National Palace Museum and Palace Museum, located inside the Forbidden City in China, share the same original roots, which was split in two as a result of the Chinese Civil War.

History
The National Palace Museum was originally established as the Palace Museum in Beijing's Forbidden City on 10 October 1925, shortly after the expulsion of Puyi, the last emperor of China, from the Forbidden City by warlord Feng Yü-hsiang. The articles in the museum consisted of the valuables of the former Imperial family. In 1931, shortly after the Mukden Incident Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Government ordered the museum to quickly move its most valuable pieces out of the city to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army. Select pieces from the Palace Museum and the Preparatory Office of the Central Museum were selected for removal, as well as rare books of the Central Library and artefacts of the Institute of History and Philology at Academia Sinica. As a result, on 6 February 1933, 13,491 boxes were moved in two trains from the plaza in front of the Gate of Divine Might to the South. The collection was moved to several places, including Shanghai, Anshun, Yibin as the Imperial Japanese Army advanced farther inland during the Second Sino-Japanese War, which merged into the greater conflict of World War II. The Chinese Civil War resumed following the surrender of the Japanese ultimately resulting in Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's decision in evacuating the art to Taiwan. When the fighting worsened in 1948 between the Communist and Nationalist armies, the Directors of the Palace Museum made the decision to send some of the most prized items in the Museum's collection to Taiwan. Hang Li-wu, later director of the museum, supervised the transport of some of the collection in three parts over four days to the harbor in Keelung, Taiwan aboard the freighter Chung Ting during the February of 1948. A total of 2,972 crates were shipped in three groups and arrived in Keelung in February 1948. By the time the items arrived in Taiwan, the Communist army had already seized control of the Palace Museum located in the Forbidden City in Beijing so not all of the collection could be sent to Taiwan. The 2,972 crates of artifacts moved to Taiwan only accounted for a quarter of the items originally transported South from Beijing, although the pieces represented some of the very best of the collection. The collection in Keelung was stored in a railway warehouse following transport across the Taiwan Strait and was later moved to a sugar cane factory near Taichung. The collection was then moved to the new museum in Wai-shuang-hsi upon its completion in 1965. During the 1960s and 1970s, the National Palace Museum was used by the Kuomintang to support its claim that the Republic of China was the sole legitimate government of all of China, in that it was the sole preserver of traditional Chinese culture amid social change and the Cultural Revolution in mainland China, and tended to emphasize Chinese nationalism. In English, the institution in Taipei is distinguished from the one in Beijing by the additional "National" designation. In common usage in Chinese, the institution in Taipei is known as the "Taipei Gugong" (臺北故宮), while that in Beijing is known as the " Beijing Gugong" (北京故宮). The PRC has said that the collection was stolen and that it legitimately belongs in China, but Taiwan has long defended its collection as a necessary act to protect the pieces from destruction, especially during the Cultural Revolution. Relations regarding this treasure have warmed recently as the PRC has agreed to lending relics and that Beijing Palace Museum curator Zheng Xinmiao said that artifacts in both mainland and Taiwan museums are "China's cultural heritage jointly owned by people across the Taiwan Strait."

The Museum building
The National Palace Museum building in Taipei was constructed from March 1964 and was completed in August 1965. Due to the insufficient space to put on display over 677,687 artifacts, the museum underwent renovations in 1967, 1970, and 1996. In 2001, the museum underwent a major $21-million-dollar renovation revamping the museum to make it more spacious and modern. It was accelerated in 2002, during this renovation period about two-thirds of the museum section was closed. The museum reopened on Christmas Day 2006, after a long ten years renovation. 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.

Art collections
The National Palace Museum main artifacts categories are:
  • Bronze
  • Painting
  • Jades
  • Ceramics
  • Calligraphy
  • Rare books
  • Documents
  • Curios
  • Pottery
Today the museum is said to house some 93,000 items of Chinese calligraphy, porcelain, bronzes, landscape paintings, portraiture and figurines from Beijing's Forbidden City and 562,000 traditional books and documents. There are 6,044 bronzes, 5,200 paintings, 3,000 works of calligraphy, 12,104 pieces of jade, 3,200 examples of lacquer and enamel ware, as well as assorted carvings, fans, rubbings, coins and textiles. With a collection of this size, only 1% of the collection is exhibited at a given time. The rest of the collection is stored in temperature controlled basement vaults.

Notable items
The museum houses several treasured items that are the pride of their collection and famous worldwide. They include:
  • The "Jadeite Cabbage": A piece of jadeite carved into the shape of a cabbage head, and with a large and a small grasshopper camouflaged in the leaves. The ruffled semi-translucent leaves attached is due to the masterful combination of various natural colour of the jade to recreate the color variations of a real cabbage.
  • The "Meat-shaped Stone": A piece of jasper, a form of agate, the strata of which are cleverly used to create a likeness of a piece of pork cooked in soy sauce. The dyed and textured surface makes the layers of skin, lean meat, and fat materialized incredibly lifelike.
  • The "Palace version" of the Qingming Scroll: Even though this is only a copy (the original is in the Palace Museum, Beijing), it is nevertheless regarded as an artistic masterpiece.
  • The "Carved Olive-stone Boat": A tiny boat carved from an olive stone. The incredibly fully-equipped skilled piece is carved with a covered deck and moveable windows. The interior has chairs, dishes on a table and eight figures representing the characters of Su Shih's "Latter Ode on the Red Cliff." The bottom is carved in minute character the entire 300+ character text with the date and the artist's name.
  • The "One Hundred Horses": A painting done in 1728 by Giuseppe Castiglione by implementing a mixture of western artistic skills and utilizing eastern materials to realize a sense of realism to this native theme.


Zhisan Garden
Housed within the compound of the National Palace Museum, this classical Chinese Song and Ming style garden covers 1.88 hectares and incorporates the principles of such diverse fields as feng shui, Chinese architecture, water management, landscape design, and Chinese folklore and metaphor. It contains numerous ponds, waterworks, and wooden Chinese pavilions. It was completed and opened in 1985.

Southern Branch
The National Palace Southern Branch will be located in Taibao, Chiayi County, Taiwan and set on 70 hectares (700,000 m 3) of land. Besides the museum, there will be a lake and Asian style garden. The Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum is an institution conceived for the promotion of Asian arts and culture. The building was designed by Architect, Antoine Predock, and began construction in 2005. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

Footnotes

Building Activity

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