Conventional museums tend to emphasize the individual intrinsic value of the displayed items, separate from their historical or archaeological context. This museum, however, recognizes the fact that each artifact exhibited has its historical background, and has its own unique archaeological status. The museum, therefore, tries to guide the visitor further into the world that the object once inhabited, and enable the onlooker to understand properly the object's comprehensive cultural background. 

The guiding principle of the museum of the IHP is the scientific spirit of "New Academic Research", which has served as the foundation of Academia Sinica since its inception. The first floor focuses on archaeology, and includes artifacts from ancient Chinese civilization, extending from the Neolithic Lungshan culture through the Shang period, the Western Chou, and into the Eastern Chou period. The second floor concentrates on historical records, and is divided into six types: wooden slips from the Han dynasty, rare books, the archives of the Grand Secretariat, ethnic groups from the southwest China, stele ink rubbings and historical documents from Taiwan, as well as a display area reserved for special exhibitions. Notes and explanations are provided by experts of every field in Academia Sinica. The exhibition starts in the main hall on the second floor, and all display areas can be reached from this hall. Each area on the second floor is preceded by an introductory note on how the artifacts were found as well as their academic significance.

The transparent glass floor on the second level and the path from the second floor down to the first floor are designed to generate an atmosphere of walking underground into an archaeological site. The corridors on the first floor exhibition area link the display areas from different periods. Previous spatial constraints imposed by numerous supporting pillars of the building were resolved using an ingenious design to portray visually the division of the historical past into different periods. The most outstanding feature of this area -- apart from the photographs of the tombs and archaeological excavations presented on the wall -- is that all of the artifacts excavated from any one tomb are all displayed.