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Home to the world's largest and arguably finest collection of Chinese art, this vast hoard covers treasures in painting, calligraphy, statuary, bronzes, lacquerware, ceramics, jade and religious objects. Some of the most popular items, such as the famous jadeite cabbage, are always on display – although check first that it's not on loan to the southern branch in Chiayi.
There are controversial plans to partially or even wholly close the museum in 2020 for three years' refurbishment.
The historical range at this museum is truly outstanding. Even within a single category, such as ceramics, pieces range over multiple dynasties, and even back to Neolithic times.
Level 1 includes rare books, special exhibits, Qing and Ming dynasty furniture, religious sculptures, and a great orientation gallery to give you an overview of dynasties.
Level 2 includes painting, calligraphy, a history of Chinese ceramics with abundant examples, and an interactive area with videos and a virtual tour of 20 famous paintings.
Level 3 contains bronzes, weapons, ritual vessels, and Ming and Qing dynasty carvings. There is also the stunning jade collection, covering weapons, teapots, jewellery, ritual objects and the renowned jadeite cabbage.
Level 4 was closed at the time of writing. Previously a teahouse, there are plans to convert it into more exhibition space.
The classy Silks Palace restaurant is in the building to the left of the main hall. Also on the left is the second Exhibition Hall that occasionally hosts special shows.
The museum offers free guided tours in English at 10am and 3pm (book online or register in person about 20 minutes before, limited to 30 people). If you prefer to move about at your own pace, try an English headphone guide (NT$150). There is also a museum gift shop worth exploring.
To reach the museum from Shilin MRT station, head out exit 1 to Zhongzheng Rd and catch the R30 (red 30), minibus 18 or 19, or bus 255, 304 or 815. It's about 15 minutes to the museum. From Dazhi MRT station take bus B13 (brown 13).