Tainan's Chimei Museum - A Must-Visit

On our family holiday back to Taiwan in December, I finally managed to take my two children down to Tainan for an overnight trip, with the primary goal of visiting Chimei Museum. If the name "Chimei" seems familiar to you, that will be because you have eaten or used a product or two made by Chimei Corporation.

Company founder Shi Wen-long is one of the richest self-made businessmen in Taiwan. Born in 1928, he was one of ten children in a poor family, and his childhood escape was a small museum in Tainan. Shi has fulfilled his dream to build a museum that is accessible to all. Practicing his belief that art should be a public good and not something hidden away in private collections, Shi has created a huge museum where people can see Western art without having to travel abroad. Entry to the museum is NTD200, but free to Tainan residents and to students.

In this video, Shi Wen-Long (now 90 years old) talks about his dream as a ten-year-old and making it come true:

This museum looks as good in real life as it does in that video. It is a journey into beauty and design. It is completely accessible. It is 100% child-friendly, and has many objects and spaces that are designed to encourage active exploration by children (and adults). The staff are knowledgable and proactive in getting everyone close to the exhibits.

Our Experience:

We took the train to Tainan and then transferred to Bao-An Station. This is a well-preservered station and we took time to take some photographs.(OK, my daughter took great photographs, which I don't have access to, whilst I managed a few snaps on my phone.)  It was a ten-minute walk for us to the museum. It was quite hot and there is little shade, so if you have young children, you might prefer to take a taxi.

The museum is set on sprawling grounds, with vast open space to run and walk and sit, with sculptures and fountains and open-air theaters to experience.

The temporary exhibit "Beyond the Shadows" has been extended until August 31st. We had A LOT of fun in this exhibit! From the more serious political statements to the frivolous fairytale dressup shadow roleplays, we spent nearly an hour in this section alone.

Playing with special effects created by shadows and tech.

Works by artists from all over the world on display. The introductory materials are all bilingual, and there is a lot of multimedia used to allow artists to introduce themselves and their work.

Using shadow puppet props, everyone can get involved in retelling the story of Alice in Wonderland. Become a shadow puppet yourself!

Chimei Museum not only displays the largest and most complete violin collection in the world. It also has a full introduction of all of the instruments in the national orchestra, complete with video introductions by members of the orchestra. Instruments are cut open so you can see the inside workings. Several times during the day, there is a STUNNING performance, where you can walk right up to the players while they perform, and experience music from right inside the "orchestra pit". The quality of the recording and the whole production blew my mind.

There are reproductions of European period rooms, where you can see how living rooms were set up during different eras, so people could enjoy musical performances in their homes.

The museum's permanent exhibits include "The Evolution of Arms and Armour" and a "Journey of Evolution". Notice how everything is displayed so even young children can get close.

There are two cafes in the museum. We chose the more family-friendly one. My teenagers sure did enjoy the pizza!
Umbrellas available to use outdoors.

We spent nearly the whole day on site. You could use the high speed rail and try to do a day trip, but why not spend a night or two in Tainan? We stayed at a very special hostel, Book Inn. I will write more about that experience later, but I recommend it, for adults, and families with older children who enjoy calm, quiet spaces. (They don't accept children under 7 years of age, and you must book one bed per person.)

Chimei Museum's multilingual website has comprehensive English-language information, including videos and virtual museum tours. Due to the changing nature of Covid-19 and related rules, please check there for travel and opening information: 

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