An Art Lover's Guide to Taipei

Quest of Heaven at MoCA Taipei
'Quest of Heaven' at MoCA Taipei | © rafa_luque / Flickr
Ciaran McEneaney

Taipei is a thriving city full of life and vitality. Thus, it comes as no surprise that it has an incredibly vibrant art scene. So, for those art lovers visiting Taiwan’s capital, here are a few places to pencil into the trip’s itinerary.

Must-visit museums

1. Taipei Fine Arts Museum

Museum, Park

1. Taipei Fine Arts Museum
© 玄史生 / WikiCommons
Founded in 1983, the official art museum of the capital city has artworks that stand somewhere between the classical and what some might call ancient works of the National Palace Museum and the more modern art in the Museum of Contemporary Art (see below). It was the first museum in Taiwan that was built exclusively for contemporary art exhibitions and features an incredible twentieth-century art collection that draws in crowds from all over the region. There’s always something going on here, with several major exhibitions taking place throughout the year.

A few insider tips:

It’s open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30am to 5:30pm, but on Saturdays you can hang around until 8:30pm.

It’s closed on Mondays.

Selfie equipment is not allowed inside the shows.

Its most impressive collection is the modernist paintings from the Japanese Colonial period (1895 – 1945).

Audio systems with headphones are available for detailed descriptions of the work.

The museum has a kid’s gallery, an art library, mini-theatre and souvenir shop inside.

There are some exhibits that visitors with kids might want to avoid. Usually, there’s a sign at the door indicating if the exhibits within are okay for kids.

2. Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei (MoCA)

Museum

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© Tianmu peter / WikiCommons
Located in a historical Japanese-era building, the museum combines historical architecture with contemporary art. This iconic building was inaugurated on May 26, 2001 and aims to create a dialogue between Taiwanese artists and the international art scene while expanding aesthetic and artistic knowledge among the general public. The museum organizes international contemporary art exhibitions while showcasing the rising talent of the Taiwanese art scene. As with the Fine Arts Museum, rotating exhibitions mean that there’s something new and fresh to take in on every visit.

A few insider tips:

Visitors can scan QR codes to learn more about the exhibits.

There are also audio files that visitors can listen to tell the story behind each artwork.

Call ahead, and the staff will recommend the best time to visit.

3. National Palace Museum (Taiwan) — Taipei, Taiwan

Museum

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NationalPalace_MuseumFrontView.jpg
© peellden / Wikimedia | © peellden / WikiCommons
The National Palace Museum is a world-class museum that has the world’s most extensive collection of Chinese artwork and artifacts from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. There are around 700,000 artifacts in this extraordinary collection. Most of these artifacts had a miraculous escape, as the Nationalist Government brought the collection to Taiwan in 1949 before the Communists could get hold of and destroy them. It has pieces spanning more than 1,000 years of Chinese history, and it’s one of the most visited museums in the world, particularly by ethnic Chinese from across the globe. They have both temporary exhibitions and permanent exhibits, which makes it an interesting place to visit on more than one occasion. Displays are always rotated, so there is always something new to look forward to each time.

A few insider tips:

The museum is open from Sunday to Thursday from 8:30am in the morning to 6:30pm in the evening, but on Friday and Saturday, visitors can stay until 9:00pm.

The One Hundred Horses painting by Lang Shining and the 19th-century Jadeite Cabbage, sculpted by an unknown artist, are the most popular artworks in the museum.

The residence of renowned Chinese painter Chang Dai-Chien is located nearby and is open to visitors, but it should be booked seven days in advance.

The Zhishan garden, located within the museum’s garden is a serene space to relax within the grounds.

There’s a cool kids area with movies, games, and a few other activities to keep the young ones interested.

Artsy Cafés

4. VVG Thinking Cafe

Cafe, Asian

A cozy café with a well-curated collection of art and design books, this quaint hipster bookstore is located inside the Huashan 1914 creative park (see below).

5. Fab Cafe

Cafe, Asian

This popular café is where people can come together and share ideas, discuss art, and, of all things, get some 3D printing done. While it’s not quite the artsy place that you might picture, it is nonetheless a café brimming with creative types.

Galleries

6. Huashan 1914 Creative Park

Bookstore, Park, Winery

Huashan 1914 is an artsy open space with contemporary art shops and is the heart of Taiwan’s creative pulse. The Park was renamed in the year 2007 by the Taiwan Cultural-Creative Development Co. Ltd, which was responsible for the renovation and operation of the park. The park is a bridge to the unique architectural past of Taiwan. This is a creative space housing art installations along with indie theatre, coffee shops and cafés that attract artists and the public alike. It’s almost like one giant living art gallery.

7. Songshan Creative Park

Art Gallery

This is an old tobacco factory in which art spaces and a shop are housed in an old sprawling building with a beautiful courtyard. Tons of art exhibitions are held here. These creative parks are art and design venues that are pretty unique. They are similar to museums and galleries but are less formal and have a more urban feel to them.

8. Piao Piao

Art Gallery

One of the more commercially successful and popular galleries on Yong Kang Street, Piao Piao attracts numerous art lovers, artists and collectors. It was opened in the year 2004 and serves not only as an exhibition space but also as a café, creating an intimate space for art lovers. Come here to experience the lively vibrancy of the local art scene.

9. Tina Keng Gallery

Art Gallery

Tina Keng Gallery focuses on nurturing local Taiwanese Art. The gallery’s intention is to give local artists a place to showcase their works to both local and international visitors.

Restaurants

10. Éclat Lounge

Hotel Restaurant, Asian, French

Located in The Éclat Hotel, this restaurant offers an incredible fine-dining experience surrounded by contemporary art. There are pieces by both local and international artists lining the walls of the restaurant, while the hotel lobby itself is something akin to a modern art gallery.

11. Le Meridien

Hotel Restaurant, Asian, Fusion, Dim Sum

The Meridien Hotel here in Taipei has around 700 original artworks created exclusively by contemporary artists from around the world. Like Éclat, the lobby is a bit like walking through an art gallery as opposed to a hotel reception area. Le Meridien’s three dining options also have some pretty impressive artworks, and although the hotel itself has a pretty exclusive feel to it, its mix of incredible food and amazing art make it a must for this list.

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