NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM
Southern Branch, Chiayi County, Taiwan
Through natural biomes, evoking diverse pan-Asian landscapes, the Museum comes into view: a base of ancient stream-washed Taroko marble, rising low and long out of watery mists...a slow ascending gallery spiral – an artifact of inscripted, weathered bronze embracing a mythic garden as the glass and cypress Jade Mountain dissolves into the clouds. The Mountain of Longevity and the Sea of Happiness inextricably and symbiotically linked by an internal journey – an episodic scroll- traveling through Asian space and time.
The conceptual armature of the Museum is both literal and abstract, an inhabited mythic Asian space embedded with auspicious content - symbolic of Asian reverence for nature and man’s position between heaven and earth. The literal Chinese definition of landscape - Shan shui - is “mountains” and “water”. Like a calligraphic radical (the visual component set that forms the basis of Chinese characters), the Museum is a landscape, it is mountain and water. A faceted, jade-tinted glass and cypress structure-Jade Mountain-rises from the Museum courtyard, aiming toward the tallest peak in Taiwan, Yu Shan. In Taiwanese aboriginal cosmology Yu Shan is known as Pattonkan, “Glowing Mountain” or “Quartz Mountain”. Water flows from our Jade Mountain to the quarry-like Lotus Pond amphitheater. The “Three Friends of Winter”, Bamboo, Plum and Pine extend the courtyard garden landscape with fortuitous symbolism.
The Taroko base recalls Taiwan’s geologic origins. Slowly rising, the galleries are sheathed in protective bronze skin, patinated to a color like Han chariot figures. Digital projections internally activate the glass skin of the Jade Mountain and paint the inside of the Media Lantern, reinforcing cultural fusion and programmatic intention. Lacquered ramps weave through the wood structure as this subliminal procession through Asian heritage culminates in a rarified mountaintop refuge, affording magnificent views over the Museum, lake and Yu Shan beyond.
The Museum exhibit experience is presented as a cinematographic unfolding of space. Similar to a viewer visually traveling through a Song dynasty Shan Shui hand scroll, museum visitors accumulate experience, aided and abetted by digital media. The viewer experiences spatial episodes, accruing a Pan-Asian perspective that continually branches, ebbs and flows. A wireless digital overlay throughout the site and all galleries, interweaves pan-Asian subtexts culminating in the glowing stone Media Lantern, a digitally painted Mogao cave. Like a colophon on a scroll, the Museum accumulates memory and experience from digital iterations.
Groundbreaking Ceremony and Lake under construction