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The Museum of Anthropology

The Museum of Anthropology of National Taiwan University reopened in November 2010. Many of the pieces come from the collection of the Institute of Ethnology at Taihoku Imperial University which was established during Japanese rule. In 1949, Taihoku Imperial University was re-organized into National Taiwan University (“NTU”) and soon after the Department of Archeology and Anthropology was established. This department was later renamed The Department of Anthropology in 1982. Since the establishment of NTU artifacts have been collected by students and professors in the department, but the pieces which came from the Institute of Ethnology during Japanese rule remain the core collection of the Department of Anthropology, NTU.

The collection consists of archaeological and ethnological artifacts, along with photos, films, recording, etc. A majority of photos and films have been cataloged and can be found by searching NTU’s digital archives. By regularly replacing permanent exhibits and occasional special exhibits, the public has the opportunity to appreciate these precious cultural relics. The collection was previously exhibited at Dongdong Building(洞洞館), there were two rooms housing archaeological artifacts and ethnological artifacts, respectively. The current site is located on the west wing of the old general library. At the current location, only specimens from the ‘Ethnology Hall’ are on display. An ‘Archeology Hall’ will be opening in the near future.

Over the years, The Museum of Anthropology has been transformed from a small, professional anthropology museum focused on teaching and research into a university museum, open to the public, with mission of social education. The department aims to promote multicultural and cross-cultural understandings of Taiwanese society through the construction of better exhibition spaces, providing new artifact displays, and undertaking important educational and social missions.

Ethnology Exhibition Hall

More than 5,000 pieces from the collection were procured back to 1895 by the pioneer scholar of Taiwan indigenous cultures, Ino Kanori. Ino’s collection includes an Atatyl banner signaling success in headhunting, shell beaded garments as well as Pingpu carvings and ornaments that are rarely seen today. However, early collection methods were not comprehensive. It was not until the Institute of Ethnology was established in 1928 that scholars began to promote ethnographic research and a systematic collection of the material and cultural artifacts of various ethnic groups began.

The current exhibition starts from the first floor with the ‘Archeological Fieldworks’ and ‘Ethnological Fieldworks’ displays. The photo wall shows photos from the Imperial University era to the modern Anthropology department to show the progress of fieldwork. Fieldwork is one of the most important research methods in anthropology. As far as archeology is concerned, most of the archaeological artifacts were obtained through previous excavations (including fieldwork courses offered by the department.)

Along the stairway to the second floor, photos are again employed to provide a brief introduction to the history and special features of the Department of Anthropology and its collection. The Ethnology Hall is on the second floor. Before going into the Hall, there is a map of the Austronesian speaking world, photos of islands and seascapes along with a cabinet of artifacts from the Pacific Islands. This helps remind visitors they are about to enter into the Austronesian world. Then, there is the Ethnology Hall exhibiting artifacts from the Austronesian-speaking Taiwan Indigenous Peoples.

Large and T-shaped cabinets hold artifacts from almost all fourteen groups of indigenous peoples. Two sections at the two ends of the Hall display ceramic pots, and stone and wooden carvings respectively. Large photographs are paired with the Thao and Yami(Tao) vessels so viewers can imagine what the vessels looked like when they were in use. Since the majority of our collection was gathered during the Japanese era, and a small portion was acquired in the 1950s and 1960s, The Gallery of Time strives to bridge the gap between the time artifacts were collected and the current exhibition, thus brings up the issue of cultural continuity and creation. There is a short video in the exhibit and two computers providing access to a database of the artifacts on display.

Archeology Exhibition Hall

The archeological collection of the museum date from the 1920’s to the early 1960’s and consists of various artifacts of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples who came to Taiwan at different times. Since the establishment of the Institute of Ethnology, the archeological showroom of the department has undergone various changes and these artifacts have become some of Taiwan’s most important cultural assets. The majority of the specimens were excavated from various sites in Taiwan during historical surveys and field courses or various research projects carried out by the department. They mainly include pottery and cultural relics of stone, jade, bone, and horn, along with tomb materials, human bones, animal bones, and shellfish. The collection also includes a few artifacts from mainland China and around the world. The department also maintains physical anthropology specimens for teaching purposes, including human evolutionary fossil models, human bone specimens, orangutan skeletons, and various types of human hair. In addition to specimens and artifacts, there are also images and original documents on related topics.

The archaeological exhibition hall is still fund-raising for construction