Founding Period (1992 to October 1999)
The National Museum of Taiwan History came into being in 1992.The first seven years of the museum's existence saw it go about the process of planning, design and establishment from the bottom up. Goal setting, foundation establishment, land acquisition, and structural organization were planned and executed in this period.
The primary goal of the Museum's establishment was to present the rich and diverse facets of Taiwanese history in combination with the disciplines of archaeology, ethnology, folk studies, and museology. Moreover, the Museum aims to unveil the interaction between the diverse ethnic environments of Taiwan to broaden perspectives through historical narration and interpretation.
The Museum is located in the Annan District of Tainan City -- near the historically important Taijiang Inner Sea, the location where outsiders first made contact with Taiwan over 400 years ago. With thoughtful planning that considered history and balanced development between the north and south, the Museum grows closer to the everyday lives of the public and the island culture of Taiwan. The Museum set out hoping to become a research center of Taiwan history in southern Taiwan through interdisciplinary research, preservation of existing Taiwanese research, establishment of a digital database, and categorization of historical materials. With these ambitious goals, the Museum has faced numerous challenges since its founding period. After the streamlining of the Taiwan Provincial Government, the Museum changed its name from the "Provincial Museum of Taiwan History" to the "National Museum of Taiwan History". Later, facing issues such as personnel changes and budget freezes, the Museum set out on a journey with numerous setbacks. Despite these problems, the Museum strove to reach its ultimate goal: to become a leading national history museum.
Preparation Period (from November 1999 to April 2007)
With the temporary Preparatory Office of the Museum moving to an office on Shaoxing North Street, Taipei City, in 2000, the Museum had begun its arduous preparation period. The museum park covers a total area of 20 hectares, including green land and waters. The museum's ultimate goal was to become a "Taiwan History Park" within the framework of the following four main domains, "Knowledge Taiwan", "Natural Taiwan", "Native Taiwan" and "Exhibition Taiwan". The major and challenging construction project on the main buildings in the park, inclusive of design, tender processes, contract signing and construction of the Administration and Collection Building and the Exhibition and Education Building, was initiated in this period. Subsequently several rounds of discussion and modification were engaged in to ensure construction of an ideal facility was achieved.
In addition to construction, the Museum also launched a "Taiwan History Multi-Resource Center Establishment Project". Among other tasks, collection of artifacts and manuscripts was the focus of the project. “Overseas historical materials related to Taiwan” and “contemporary and modern collections” were the key points of the collection and initial results from this stage were soon seen. Through purchases, donations and transfers, the Museum collected early Taiwanese lacquerware, Taoist iconology, folk paintings related to Taiwan history, traditional clothes and accessories, and so on. After investigation and evaluation, the Museum started to add the archive functions needed for a formal collection process through the construction of temporary archive rooms, registration and storage of collections, as well as restoration facilities and security surveillance systems.
Many research projects and investigations relating to both domestic and overseas Taiwanese historical materials were a focus in this period, including the "Taiwan Images in an Age of Discovery Research Project", the "Viewing Taiwan from Ancient Maps Research Project", the "Women of Taiwan Research Project" and so on. Execution of these research projects was accelerated by the adoption of commissioned research. The Museum also published books such as "Formosa: The NMTH Collection of Western Maps Relating to Taiwan, 1500-1900"and "A Bibliography of the Early History of Taiwan" to contribute to the literature on such subjects. The Museum also began to carry out independent research projects such as the Images of Taiwan in the Dutch Formosa Period project. With long-term accumulation of both tangible and intangible resources, the Museum continued to hold exhibitions and educational activities of different kinds. Integrating academic and social resources, the Museum built up a network of cultural resources and co-organized Taiwan history activities with many institutions, such as the "Mazu Pilgrimage in Tainan City", "The 400th Anniversary of the First Meeting of Penghu Locals and the Dutch", "The 360th Anniversary of Koxinga Being Awarded Lord of the Imperial Surname", and "The 280th Anniversary of the Establishment of Tainan City". Through constant public activities, the Museum aimed to not only pass on historical knowledge and enhance its public services but also involve more people in participation and thus reinforce its influence on society. In addition, as the core of the "Taiwan History Multi-Resource Center Establishment Project", establishment of online resources and digital archives was completed.
To record the Museum's establishment process, the "Watch Taiwan" semi-annual journal has been published since January, 2004. Each issue details progress on timelines of both hardware and software construction, helping the public understand the Museum's establishment progress. The Museum was officially approved as a Level 4 central institution in March, 2007. It has also expanded its organization into a Research Division, Collection Division, Exhibition Division, and Public Service Division and begun to recruit new staff. The fully developed human resources structure organization of this period marked a critical step on the road to becoming an official museum.
Startup Period (from May 2007 to October 2011)
During the preparatory period, most work such as planning and execution was done in the temporary Preparatory Office of the Museum. The Museum first sojourned in the Provincial Taiwan Museum, later moving to the Shaoxing North Street, Taipei City office, and then to the Anping Branch of the Tainan Municipal Library. Not until the inauguration ceremony of the Administration and Collection Building in the Museum Park in May, 2007, did the Museum finally have a place to call it own. An opening ceremony was held at the Museum in October, 2007, which opened the door to the Museum's boom period. In this period, the Museum not only continued in its four main tasks: collection, research, exhibition, and education by receiving collected artworks, purchasing artifacts, organizing academic seminars, exhibitions, and educational classes, but also engaged in interaction and connection with local communities through field studies, interviews with the elderly, recruitment of volunteers, and workshops related to local culture and history. The Museum's discovery and cultivation of local cultural features based on the Taijiang Inner Sea helped increase public participation and construct a shared memory of Taiwan. Various international research and overseas exhibitions were thriving as well. The Museum intended to employ its rich historical treasures and interpretations concerning Taiwan history and culture to introduce Taiwan on the world stage and display an affection for this land and its uniqueness as an island.
The objective of the "Taiwan History Knowledge Base Program" is to build up a knowledge database related to historical research on Taiwan history through comprehensive collection of historical materials and construction of a digital database.
With construction and facilities setup almost completed, the park opened in October 2010 with the Museum opening a year later. Covering a total area of 1,324 hectares, the permanent exhibition "Our Land, Our People: The Story of Taiwan" chronologically displays the beauty of the land and people of Taiwan. Cultivating and building for nearly 20 years, the Museum continues to adhere to its goals, cherishing its previous endeavors, and striving to shine a light on Taiwan history in the future.
Operational Period (from October 2011 -)
The long-awaited National Museum of Taiwan History had its grand opening ceremony on October 29, 2011, and received much attention both domestically and abroad. After its grand opening, the number of daily visitors kept reaching new highs and the Museum received many positive reviews. Grateful to receive this recognition, the Museum promises to do its best to serve as a leading research base.
Shouldering its responsibility to unveil the everyday life of the public and pass on historical knowledge, the Museum devotes itself in its next phase to examining historical events in Taiwan, observing the current activities, expecting the future and continues to view discovery and collection of Taiwan-related overseas historical materials and artworks as its core exhibition work, which demonstrates the Museum’s achievement in various aspects In May, 2012, the Museum's Learning Center opened, featuring the application of digital technology in the interpretation of historical resources. With the opening of the Learning Center, the Museum's services are complete. It not only enables visitors to access the world but also breaks the barriers of race and language and developed a new vision of Taiwan historical research. In addition, the Center shows concern for the socially disadvantaged. It attracts visitors interested in culture, history, and ecology, establishes a diverse learning interface, and promotes and spreads equality through integrating social resources.
Historical memories are fluid. We move forwards to create a happy future for Taiwan through a structure that will stand the tests of time.