The Arts



The National Palace Museum, Taipei



The National Palace Museum (Chinese: 國立故宮博物院; Pinyin: Gol Ggōng Bwyan) is an art gallery and museum in Taipei, Taiwan, containing artifacts of ancient China. It should not be confused with the Palace Museum (note the absence of the word "National"), which is the Forbidden City in Beijing. Both institutions derive from the same original institution, which was split in two as a result of the Chinese Civil War. The National Palace Museum holds the largest collection of Chinese artifacts and artwork in the world.


Taipei's National Palace Museum with apartment complex.
Allen Timothy Chang, 2000
Fig 1

The National Palace Museum was established in Beijing on October 10, 1925, shortly after the expulsion of Puyi, the last emperor of China, from the Forbidden City by warlord Feng Y-hsiang. The articles in the museum consisted of the valuables of the former Imperial family and were moved from place to place in the 1930s and 1940s to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army.

The National Palace Museum Main Entrance.
Fig 2

During the final years of the Chinese Civil War, the museum collections were moved, under the orders of Chiang Kai-shek, from the Beijing Forbidden City to Taiwan. This removal has always been controversial with many in Mainland China viewing this as looting while some in Taiwan arguing that had the art not been moved to Taiwan in the 1940s, much would have been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. With the victory of the Communists, the National Palace Museum was split into two (the part on the mainland, like all other such institutions, lost its "National" designation). The part on the mainland is centered on the Forbidden City.

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 the social change and Cultural Revolution in mainland China, and tended to emphasize Chinese nationalism. In recent years, the museum has focused more on local and minority cultures and has included some materials on loan from the People's Republic of China.

The National Palace Museum in Taiwan has also been controversial, with many supporters of Taiwanese independence regarding it as an unwanted symbol of China-centeredness.



The Arts :: Museums and Galleries

Dashanzi Art District | Guangdong Provincial Museum | The National Palace Museum, Taipei | The Palace Museum, Beijing | The National Museum of China | Museum of Terra- Cotta Warriors and Horses




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