National Taiwan Museum Nanmen Park - History of Camphor

If you have been following my blog for a while, you will have figured out I am a little obsessed with the restoration of heritage buildings in Taiwan. My children still humor my fascination, and are willing to follow me as I check out sites, exclaiming, "Oh, that's from the Japanese Occupation!" Or, "Look at that Portuguese influence!" Luckily for us, government and individuals have embraced restoration and development of cultural and historical spaces within the buildings.

View from the street.
Quiet garden and fountain, nice for a picnic lunch, but take your own, there's not much to buy nearby.

We had not visited the Nanmen Park branch of the National Taiwan Museum before. The description of the building on the museum website naturally pushed me into going to check it out:

"The Nanmen Park is part of the historical monument reuse program which combines the historical architecture with the museum exhibitions.
 This exhibition hall retains the impression of the original camphor warehouse, so to make connection between the processes of camphor production with the history of industrialD development in Taiwan.
 The mottled red bricks that lined the walls of the exhibition hall whisper softly about the stories of the Nanmen Factory."
You can read the full history of Nanmen Park here.
The museum is off the main road and very quiet. It has a lovely park with a fountain and fabulous toilets! Due to the coronavirus threat, the children's activity room and cafe is closed right now, but the main exhibit is still open. The exhibit space is fairly small, so young children can feel a sense of accomplishment in walking the "entire" museum, including stairs up one floor and back down the other side. Entry is NTD20 "regular" and NTD10 "discount". There are lockers available.

History of Camphor Exhibit:

This is the permanent exhibit of the museum. In this section, you can learn about camphor, early trade, and some of the developments and troubles this brought to the island. There is a fun setup where you can sit in an old street scene and "ride" around the district on the back of a wagon. I was more infatuated by this than my 13-year-old, who spent more time reading the history on the walls and studying the art than I did...

Temporary Exhibit: Drawing Nature

On the second floor, you can surround yourself with beautiful drawings of nature, drawn by Taiwanese and international scientists over generations. One of the treasures in a huge book of drawings of birds. There are also stories of explorers and naturalists who visited Formosa long ago, recording their "discoveries". It is a multimedia exhibit, with films, documents, and hands-on activities. There is enough material up close and down low to make it accessible for young museum-goers. (I always encourage families to take young ones to museums and galleries. Don't worry if young children seem to whip through the place, they are taking in what they need with all of their senses, and absorb much more than we adults can in very short amounts of time, with their whole bodies!)

Drawing tools and paper are supplied, so you can attempt to draw what you see in these beautiful containers.

The exhibit material is in Chinese and English, and there is enough detail to make learning meaningful in either language.

With the pandemic meaning there could be sudden changes to opening times, conditions, etc, it is advisable to check the website before heading out so you are not disappointed. It's multilingual. Click here for the English link.

Google map link here.

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