Home to the world's largest and arguably finest collection of Chinese art, this vast collection covers treasures in painting, calligraphy, statuary, bronzes, lacquerware, ceramics, jade and religious objects. Some of the most popular items, such as the famous jade cabbage, are always on display – although check first that it's not on loan to the southern branch in Chiayi. Given the size of the museum's collection, much is on rotation, however.
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 jade cabbage.
Level 4 contains the Sanxitang Teahouse, which offers tea, dim sum and a good vegetarian selection. There's also an eating area in the museum annex with the classy Silks Palace restaurant on the ground level, and the Taiwanese Food Court on B1.
The museum offers free guided tours in English at 10am and 3pm (book online). If you prefer to move about at your own pace, try an English headphone guide (NT$200).
An annex at the front of the museum (to the left as you head up the stairs) holds regular special exhibitions, which cost extra to attend.
To reach the museum from Shilin MRT station, head out exit 1 to Zhongzheng Rd and catch 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).