Due to its abundance of natural beauty and proximity to the ocean, the northeastern Taiwanese county of Yilan is often referred as "the back garden of Taipei City.” Moreover, as the host of major annual festivities such as the Yilan International Children's Folklore and Folkgame Festival, Yilan has garnered considerable artistic expertise and recreational momentum, which drove the demand for a local institute that could help showcase the county's vibrant culture and ecological diversity.
Lanyang: The origins
Beginning with the framework of "Yilan is a museum unto itself,” the city government, along with several local museums and private sector entities, joined together to form the Yilan County Family Cultural Museums Association, which is now known as the Lanyang Family Cultural Museums.
The Lanyang Family Cultural Museums aimed to develop a comprehensive museum capable of three basic functions: preserving the tangible and intangible assets of Yilan; spearheading academic projects such as archeological research and the prime arrangement of exhibitions; and organizing educational programs that provide solid knowledge on the abundance of resources and life in Taiwan.
With assistance from scholars and corporations in Yilan, the successful merging of several public and private museums, and the horizontal integration of cultural resources, the Lanyang Museum officially opened to the public on Oct. 16, 2010.
In harmony with nature
The museum takes its name from the 320-square-kilometer Lanyang Plain, an expansive region of lush vegetation and pristine rivers, and the third largest of its kind in Taiwan. The harmony of the landscape, skyline, and natural scenery of the Lanyang Plain is evident to those entering Yilan. In light of this, the museum is designed to provide visitors with a geographical and spatial experience that is unique to this land.
To start with, the permanent exhibitions of the Lanyang Museum are arranged in different groups on each floor of the building, including the 'Mountains Level,' the 'Plains Level,' and the 'Ocean Level.' This approach helps to comprehensively showcase Yilan's overall geographical features as well as its cultural and social traits.
To heighten the museum's educational impact, developers have also arranged a "Kid's Land” on the first floor of the facility. Intended for school children aged 6 to 10, the exhibitions in this area will brief young visitors on the distinctive oceanic resources of Yilan through interactive learning facilities, bright visuals, and innovative games.
The children's exhibitions are divided into nine themes, including the Marine Theatre, Marine Express, Grand Masters of the Ocean, Undersea Rainforest, Marine Highway, Marine Institute, Exploring Turtle Island, Home of the Fishing Boat, and Marine Environmental Crisis Intervention. Each section is designed to create a fun atmosphere in which children can learn about the marine world and the irreplaceable value of sea creatures.
Architectural interpretation of Yilan
Nevertheless, the most striking feature of the Lanyang Museum remains its architectural interpretation of the Yilan landscape. Inspired by the cuesta landscapes along the northeastern coast of Taiwan, a team led by Taiwanese urban planner Kris Yao came up with the architectural design of the museum. Cuesta — a Spanish term referring to ridges with a relatively steep face or escarpment on one side and a long, gentle slope on the other — is a unique geographical feature of this region.
The features of the Lanyang Museum also encompass more than just the exterior architecture and interior exhibitions. The surrounding nature is also part of the museum. The concept of co-existence of civilization and nature is closely incorporated into the museum grounds, giving rise to a surrounding area that is in complete harmony with the ecological system of the neighboring Wushi wetlands.
This is the reason the main building of the museum is located in the northwest corner of the grounds, as the museum designers aimed to preserve as large an area as possible of the wetlands while erecting new buildings. The project's completion ensued in a natural wetland ecological park that gently embraces the eco-friendly Lanyang Museum.