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National Palace Museum

The Beigou Legacy: The National Palace Museum's Early Years in Taiwan

  • Dates: 2020-10-09~2021-03-07
  • Gallery: (Northern Branch) Exhibition Area I 104

In the winter of 1948, as the Chinese Civil War between the Nationalists and Communists intensified, the Palace Museum and the Preparatory Office of the National Central Museum were instructed to select important artifacts and artworks in Nanjing for evacuation to Taiwan. In late February 1949, the collections of the two museums arrived in three batches and were temporarily stored in the Taichung Sugar Mill warehouse. The following April, the collections were moved to the newly built storehouses in Beigou in the central Taiwanese town of Wufeng. Over the next 15 years, the two museums formed a Joint Administrative Office and took inventory of all objects shipped to Taiwan. Despite the lack of resources, the Office made every effort to catalogue the collections and to publish their findings. Later on, a small-scale gallery was erected and public exhibitions were held. In addition, the Office selected the finest pieces for a five-venue exhibition in the United States. In 1965, as part of the government plan to develop tourism and showcase the most splendid Chinese art to a wider audience, a new museum was constructed in the Taipei suburb of Waishuangxi. This site became the home of the newly reinstated National Palace Museum, which incorporated the National Central Museum.

The Beigou period was an important transitional stage in the history of the Museum. During the Beigou years, constraints in terms of space, personnel, and funding made it difficult for the two museums to expand their operations, and activities were mostly confined to cataloguing and safeguarding artifacts. Nevertheless, the work in collection management, preservation, research, publication, and exhibition outreach laid a strong foundation for the future National Palace Museum to grow and reach new heights. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the two institutions' treasured art objects in Beigou. The Museum has launched the exhibition to commemorate this historical event and highlight a significant period in its history. The exhibition consists of six sections: "Relocation of Important Artifacts to Taiwan," "Safeguarding and Conservation," "Taking Stock of the Collections," "Cataloguing and Publication," "Exhibitions and Outreach," and "Reinstatement of the Museum in Taipei." Featuring historical documents and photographic images from the Museum History Archives and pictorial materials provided by the descendants of those who couriered the objects to Taiwan, it is intended to offer a comprehensive review of the historical context of the Museum's early years in Taiwan.

The National Palace Museum's Early Years in Taiwan_Safeguarding and ConservationThe National Palace Museum's Early Years in Taiwan_Safeguarding and ConservationThe National Palace Museum's Early Years in Taiwan_Safeguarding and Conservation