This is the exhibition guidebook to Special Exhibition The Beigou Legacy: The National Palace Museum’s Early Years in Taiwan.
The Mukden Incident, which took place in 1931, brought great political and social turmoil to Pingjin. To ensure that national treasures were protected and successfully passed down to future generation, the Nationalist Government came to the decision to relocate them to safer locations. Since then, the artifacts had been transported for tens of thousands of miles, moving to as far as Shanghai–Nanjing in the south and Chongqing–Sichuanin in the west. In 1947, these artifacts were re-transported back to Beijing. In the winter of 1948, the Battle of Hsupeng created immense political and social tension, prompting the government to order the Palace Museum and the Preparatory Department of the National Central Museum to transport selected artifact masterpieces to Taiwan. Other units ordered to transport their artifacts, books, and historical documents to Taiwan included the Institute of History and Philology (Academia Sinica), National Central Library, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. By late Feb., 1949, all three artifact batches from all aforementioned units arrived in Taiwan and were temporarily stored in the Taichung Sugar Factory warehouse.
In consideration of the war-threatened environment of Taiwan, in Aug. 1949, the Executive Yuan temporarily merged the Palace Museum, Preparatory Department of the National Central Museum, and National Central Library together, forming the Joint Managerial Office of the National Central Museum and National Central Library. In Apr. 1950, the Joint Managerial Office chose the newly constructed storehouses in Beigou (in Wufeng, Taichung) to house all of the artifacts relocated to Taiwan. In Mar. 1953, a small-scale cave near the Beigou storehouses to be used as the storehouse of the most precious artifacts when necessary was completed. In Sept. 1954, the inventory check of all the artifacts relocated to Taiwan was completed; the inventory check took four years to complete. Although the artifacts were transported via land and water means during the war, none were missing. In addition to preserving and organizing artifacts in simple, crude environments, staff of the Palace Museum and Preparatory Department of the National Central Museum researched and published various text and/or graphic-based catalogues, becoming important reference materials for studying Chinese art history today. In Dec. 1956, the Beigou exhibition hall was built; said hall officially opened in Mar. 1957. In May 1961, the Palace Museum and National Central Library were invited to host an exhibition titled “Chinese Art Treasures” in five venues in the United States, winning the admiration of all people alike. To enable domestic and foreign visitors to witness the glory and brilliance of Chinese culture and art more easily, in 1965, the Taiwanese government united the Palace Museum and National Central Library together (becoming the National Palace Museum) in Waishuanxi, Taiwan. Artifacts were then opened for exhibition.
2020 marks the 70th anniversary since the construction of the abovementioned storerooms in Beigou. In memory of the past and in anticipation of the future, the National Palace Museum released a book for Special Exhibition The Beigou Legacy: The National Palace Museum’s Early Years in Taiwan, using related historical documents, historical images, and text to illustrate the dedication and hard work of the Palace Museum and National Central Library in preserving thousand-year-old artifacts and the development of the Palace Museum and National Central Library from 1950 to 1965.
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