There are at least 47 museums in Taipei and 14 in New Taipei. Most charge free admission or if they do only minimal fee (NTD30 or NTD50), making museums hopping is very affordable. Also, most museums have provided dual language exhibitions, understanding is not an issue. I can’t visit a place without understanding a context of the place and therefore visiting a museum is at the top of the list. National Palace Museum, National Museum of History and National Taiwan Museum provides adequate contexts for Taiwan whereas “Discovery Center” for Taipei. Besides these, there are several unique museums with unique positioning such as Miniature Museum of Taiwan, Gold Museum, Hot Spring Museum or Museum of Drinking Water. See?
Looking at museums below I realized how far I have travelled.
National Palace Museum
It is probably the most recommended museum to visit to understand the context of Taiwan and China. The only thing consequentially is that it can be crowded (with tour-herded Mainland China tourist) you may not be able to enjoy it. Among more than 690,000 collections (90% of which rare books/archival documents), the crowd pulles are Jadeite Cabbage and Meat Shaped Stone.
Red 30 Bus from Shilin MRT Station or Brown 20 from Jiannan MRT Station will take you to outside of the Museum’s B1. Admission NTD160. Free daily tours in English at 10:00 and 15:00. No photography allowed.
National Taiwan Museum
Established in 1908, this is the oldest museum in Taiwan. The museum is located at 228 Peace Park (accessed through NTU (National Taiwan University) Hospital MRT Station, Exit 4). It provides a good context for native Taiwanese and geological history and mineral as well as biodiversity of Taiwan. Best visited along with Land Bank Exhibition Hall of NTM, just across diagonally the street.
Miniatures Museum of Taiwan (MMOT)
Can you believe true whiskey in a tiny 1cm bottle? A TV smaller than a postage stamp actually works? A chandelier with 40 bulbs the size of grain of rice ina one twelfth scale in Buckingham Palace?
MMOT is the first and only one of the kind in East Asia. I was amazed by its huge collections and fine details of miniatures, the patience when creating them. I wish I could shrink and go inside them.
B1, No. 96 Jianguo North Road Sec 1, Taipei. http://www.mmot.com.tw . MRT Station: SongJiang NanJian, Exit 4.
Open: Tue – Sun, 10:00 – 18:00. Closed on Mon.
Admissions: Adult NTD180 Children NTD100
Museums of Contemporary Arts (MOCA)
MOCA is the first art institution in Taiwan dedicated exclusively to contemporary art. The museum building was originally the Jan Cheng Elementary School, established during the Japanese colonial period. Spanning across two floors, the exhibitions and performance spaces, MOCA connects cultural history with contemporary arts. Whereas public art on an area between the museum plaza and Zhongshan MRT Station transforms the linear park into an art trail and improve the visual aesthetics of the local environment.
No. 39 ChangAn West Road, Taipei, Taiwan 103. http://www.mocataipei.org.tw MRT Tamsui Line, Zhongshan Station Exit R4. Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 6pm. Monday Closed. Themed Exhibitions: NTD50, general admissions: NTD45. No flash while photographing.
Taiwan Design Museum and Red Dot Museum
Both museum are located at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, 700m from CKS Memorial Hall MRT Station. Also visit Eslite Spectrum, a multi purpose building with floors dedicated for design-themed stores.
Taiwan Design Museum: http://www.tdm.org.tw/
Taipei Red Dot Museum: http://en.red-dot.org/5127.html
Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM)
A minimalist bone-whote facade juxtaposed by transversal beams define the singular and dignified edifice that is the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. TFAM focuses on the procurement of outstanding works by Taiwanese artists from the 20th century to the present, producing a chronology of fine art as it developed in Taiwan.
When visiting TFAM don’t forget to visit Taiwan Excellence (connected to TFAM by a bridge) that displays “made in Taiwan” quality products. Also opposite the museum is Taipei Story House and nearby Taipei Expo Park.
181 Zhongshan North Road Section 3, Taipei 10461. http://www.TFAM.com . Tue – Sun, 9:30am – 5:30pm. Mon Closed. Entrance fee NTD30 (excluding special exhibition). MRT: Tamsui Line, Yuanshan Station, Exit 1 in the direction of Zhongshan North Road. 10-min walk. No photography allowed.
National Museum of History (NMH)
NMH exhibits Chinese historical items. The museum is established in a Japanese style building near Taipei Botanical Garden (there is a shortcut from the garden near Lotus Pond). Don’t miss a great view from the 3rd floor of the museum: Lotus Pond.
No. 49 Nánhǎi Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100. Taipei Botanical Garden can be accessed within 5-min walk from Xiaonanmen MRT Station. The museum can also be accessed from CKS Memorial Hall MRT Station (10-12min walk). Admission: NTD30
Museum of Drinking Water
Here what you will see: old pumps, old MCC (motor control center), pipe fittings, tanks, a Baroque style building and a bit of history, Access via MRT Gongguan Station Exit 4. Best visited along with Taipei Water Park or Gongguan Riverside (bike lane)
Discovery Center of Taipei
This place is a good educational center to get your bearings on the city and its history. The center is housed within Taipei City Hall (within walking distance from Taipei City Hall MRT Station, Free Admission). Quoting its website, Taipei City Government designated it as a modern stage for “citizens,” “cities,” “interactive dialogue with visitors,” and “presenting achievements of city construction. “It is responsible for social education, the promulgation of civil politics, and the promotion of the city. This center exhibits the city’s technology, history, humanity, art, and ecology. Through various perceptive and interactive displays, visitors are introduced to the development of Taipei City”.
The museum looks generic with its nice display of gold mining industry in Jinguashi, miniature of underground tunnels, until I came to the end of visit, when I saw a 220-kg gold brick. Yes, it’s real!
Surrounding environment, as it is located at Gold Ecological Park, also makes this museum worth a visit. Don’t miss an opportunity to go inside the Tunnel (NTD50), or panning gold (NTD100). Gold Museum and areas are free anyway. Other attractions include abandoned rail tracks, Four Joined Japanese Houses, Environment Building, Shinto Shrines, The Crown Prince Chalet. All set high above the village in green, quiet hillsides.
Bus 1062 from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station Exit 1 will take you to the site for a little over an hour through twisty mountain roads.
Beitou Hot Spring Museum
The museum was originally the Beitou Public Bathhouse, the largest bathhouse in the East Asia at the time (Japanese colonial period). House in a building resembles English house, the museum recounts Beitou hot spring industry. On display are historical relics and documents which tells stories of the sulfur mining, the hot spring and Taiwanese films. I particularly like the building itself, Japanese interiors and radioactive measurement from sulfur blocks. The museum is located at Beitou, one of the Taiwan hot spring centers, easily accesible by MRT Tamsui Line, Beitou Station, continued with another train to Xinbeitou. Visit to the museum may be combined with visit to Thermal Valley, Ketagalan Cultural Center, hiking or private hot spring bath available at many hotels in the area. A very nice Beitou Public Library building is nearby.
There are two museums associated with 2/28 or 228, referring to a Febaruary 28. 228 incident was an anti-government uprising in Taiwan that began on February 27, 1947 which was violently suppressed by the Kuomintang (KMT)-led Republic of China government and which resulted in the massacre of numerous civilians, beginning on February 28, or 2/28.
228 Memorial Museum is located at 228 Peace Memorial Park whereas National 228 Memorial Park is located at Nanhai Road (5-7 minutes walk from CKS Memorial Hall MRT Station).