About us

Museum history

Academic Legacy

Professor Fu Ssu-nien, the Institute's first director, founded the Institute of History and Philology in 1928. Relying on the support of the institute's exceptional organization and capacity for research, the Preparatory Office for the Academia Sinica Museum was established in 1933. Dr. Fu Ssu-nien envisioned the museum as a center for educating the public, promoting society's interest in cultural heritage and broadening the historical horizons of common citizens. By associating the artifacts with their relevant natural history, the museum differed considerably from other museums which simply displayed their collections out of context.

During and after the decade of the Sino-Japanese war, the relationship between the museum's Preparatory Office and the Institute of History and Philology became closer, and the two started working together on archaeological excavations and ethnological projects. After the relocation of the Academia Sinica Museum to Taiwan in 1949, it was merged with the National Palace Museum of Peking to form the Joint Administration of Academia Sinica and the Palace Museum. In 1965 the name was changed to the National Palace Museum in Taipei. The Museum of the Academia Sinica thus temporarily ceased to exist .

In 1958, an exhibition hall for archaeological artifacts was inaugurated with only one room at the Institute of History and Philology. With the opening of the History Exhibition Building in 1986, the museum received its first home in Taiwan. The first and the second floor of the Building were specifically reserved for exhibition galleries. After renovations were completed in June 2002, the Academia Sinica Museum was reopened to the public. This rebirth of the museum represents not only a physical return to the Institute of History and Philology, but also the revival of the spirit in which it was founded. In contrast to other museums, artifacts in our exhibits are significant on two levels: first, due to their importance to historical, cultural, and archaeological knowledge, and second, because they illuminate the development of both the institute and Chinese academics at large since the 1920's.

The Reorientation of the IHP Museum in the Information Age of the 21st Century

Since the creation of the Institute of History and Philology, the guiding principle behind all its academic activities has always been to encourage researchers to leave the confines of their libraries and conduct field research. Fu Ssu-nien urged his colleagues to travel up hill and down dale in search of first-hand materials only obtainable through field research. This critical spirit stressing scientific verification is manifested in the works displayed in the museum.

In the global village of the 21st century, knowledge is no longer an exclusive good to be stored in an ivory tower, but must be made accessible to all sectors of the public. Only in this way can we stimulate discussion, engage in critical inquiry, enrich historical imagination, and envision future perspectives. This museum hopes to bridge the gap between its scientific heritage and the general public. By doing so, we wish to pass on the legacy and achievements of the museum, while at the same time adjusting our operations to meet future challenges. Your suggestions and comments are most welcome.

Milestones in the Development of an Academic Museum

In 1997, the museum was closed for renovation. Exhibit themes and contents were planned anew. Meanwhile, in order to meet the special requirements for the conservation of both bronze and organic items, two constant temperature and humidity storerooms were set up. In 1994 a conservation laboratory was established to take charge of research and conservation. All resources and manpower related to education, promotion, and exhibit matters were integrated. The museum was henceforth transformed into a professionally managed museum. The museum was reopened in 2002 with several permanent exhibitions as well as smaller-scale special exhibits and promotional events. At present, our key task is to re-categorize the artifacts excavated from China and to cooperate with the National Science Councils National Digital Archive Project to digitalize all collections into a computerized archival database.

As Dr. Fu Ssu-nien advocated in the early days of the museum, the tasks of researching and exhibiting artifacts do not conflict but rather benefit from each other. In addition to academic research, the Institute has always considered the dissemination of historical knowledge as one of its long-term duties. The exhibition hall has served as a place where the academic work conducted within the Institute is presented to the public for mutual communication, in the hope of promoting the public's interest in culture and science.

Collection features

Collection features

Unlike conventional “showpiece” museums or the personal collections of scholars, the artifacts held by the Institute of History and Philology are mostly collected from archaeological field excavations carried out in China prior to its relocation to Taiwan, supplimented with artifacts later found during field research in Taiwan or in Fujian Province. These objects were collected mainly for the purpose of academic research.

Classified by materials, the collection can be divided into artifacts made from stone, bone, shell, ceramic, jade, and bronze as well as wooden slips, and archives recorded on paper. The collection spans the breadth of Chinese history, from the Paleolithic Period to the later imperial dynasties of the Ming and Ch'ing, and modern times. As for regional variety, the majority of the pieces originated in Mainland China, others are from Europe or Taiwan.

Various books and ink rubbings from the Institute's Fu Ssu-nien Library and the Archives of the Grand Secretariat from the Ming and Ch'ing dynasties are held in the Ming and Ch'ing Records room. In addition to these, over 140,000 pieces are stored in the Institute itself. They include:
  • Over 120,000 pieces excavated by the Academia Sinica during the time when the Institute was still in China, approximately 70% of which are from the Shang period ruins near Anyang, Honan Province. In addition to these, there are also artifacts from archaeological finds in Hsin-ts'un, Chunsheng, Honan Province, Liu-li-ko in Hui-hsien, Shan-piao-chen in Hsisheng, Ch'eng-tzu-yai in Chi-nan, Shantung Province, Jih-chao Liang-ch'eng-chen, Fo-yeh-miao in Dunhuang, Kansu Province, the Wuwei Lama Wan and the Minch'in Sanchiao Ch'eng.
  • Over 7000 pieces dating from the Paleolithic period, originally from the Mortillet collection.
  • A number of bronzes dating from the Shang and Chou dynasties, purchased by Profesor Fu Ssu-nien in Peking.
  • Over 13,000 wooden slips from Edson-gol, dating back to the Han dynasty.
  • Over 1000 items relating to ethnic minority groups in China.

Collection concept

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 Scholarship, 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 Taiwan archaeology, 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.



李尚仁 Shang-jen Li

Education promotion

王家瑋 Wang, Chia-Wei
吳秀玲 Wu, Hsiu-Ling

Exhibition planning

林明信 Lin, Ming-Hsin
丁瑞茂 Ding, Rui-Mao
黃睿文 Huang, Jui-Wen

Exhibition operation

鄭智文 Cheng, Chih-Wen