Skip to main content

Taiwan New Cultural Movement Memorial Museum

  • Publish Date:2023-03-14
Taiwan New Cultural Movement Memorial Museum

Chinese Name: 臺灣新文化運動紀念館

Location: Taipei City (Northern Taiwan)

Established: 1933

Official Website:

Did You Know?

The Taiwan New Cultural Movement Memorial Museum is housed in what was, during the Japanese colonial period, the Taihoku North Police Station (臺北北警察署). At that time, the Taipei police deployment was split roughly at the North Gate of Old Taipei. The area south of the North Gate was under the jurisdiction of the Taihoku South Police Station, and the area north of it was under the jurisdiction of the Taihoku North Police Station. The Taihoku North Police Station was located in Dadaocheng, the economic center of northern Taiwan at that time. The Dadaocheng area was the birthplace of Taiwan's political and social movements for democracy in the late period of the Japanese occupation. Taiwanese elites were arrested and imprisoned in the North Police Station for advocating their political ideas, which were difficult for the colonial government to accept.

After 1945, the Taihoku North Police Department was restructured into the Taipei City Police Department. In 1998, the former Taihoku North Police Station was designated a Taipei City municipal monument. It is the only remaining police station in Taipei City from the 1930s, and as such, it has become a valuable witness to modern history. In particular, the detention center and water prison built in the past are still preserved indoors, a special showcase of exactly what makes the space usual. As an important cultural asset that witnessed the operation of the police system during the Japanese colonial period, the North Police Station was originally planned to be a "police museum" to show the controlling atmosphere and the changes in the role of the police during the Japanese occupation. What the North Police Department really represents, though, is the clamping down on civil society movements and restriction of the freedoms of speech and thought. This reality led experts and scholars to rethink whether this building should instead be used as a museum to explain human rights issues and Taiwan's difficult history.

In 2006, the Taipei City Government proposed it become the "Taiwan New Cultural Movement Memorial Museum," with the entire space restored and the interior facilities updated, helping preserve and pass along the understanding of historical events and spirit of the characters involved in the New Cultural Movement initiated by the Taiwan Cultural Association (臺灣文化協會) in the 1920s.

After the wharf at Dadaocheng was opened to trade in 1860, international commercial exchanges and trade grew at a phenomenal pace. In 1895, Taiwan entered a period of Japanese rule. At this time, Dadaocheng Wharf was surrounded by foreign firms and tea merchants, and the commercial development of Dadaocheng area made it the most prosperous area in Taiwan. Booming commercial transportation created a platform for multicultural exchanges, attracting literati and artists from all over Taiwan to gather here.

In the 1920s, intellectuals in Taiwan were influenced by the 1911 Xinhai Revolution (辛亥革命) in China, along with global tides of nationalism and socialism. They realized that the people of Taiwan could not forever be colonized people deprived of suffrage, and set their hearts on using non-violent methods to oppose the colonizing regime's restrictions and clampdowns on knowledge. Therefore, in 1921, activists Lin Hsien-tang (林獻堂), Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水), and others called for the establishment of the Taiwan Cultural Association to boost local consciousness of Taiwanese culture. The association published newspapers, held talks, performed dramas, and played films, setting off a new cultural movement across Taiwan.

The newspaper Taiwan Minbao (臺灣民報), published by the Cultural Association, competed with the Daily News (日日新報), the official paper published by the Japanese authorities. With the rise of the New Cultural Movement, a new Taiwanese literature gradually emerged, one that showed concern for the local people and those lower in the social hierarchy. Compared with traditional opera, the New Drama Movement came with progressive ideas around as breaking down feudalism and reforming society. Members of the Cultural Association also set up troupes in various places to perform cultural dramas full of reformist ideas, in an attempt to consolidate Taiwanese consciousness through drama and bring the spirit of the new era to the people.

The New Cultural Movement has spawned many local Taiwanese artists, and the Dadaocheng area has produced its share of talents; Taiwan's well-known early sculptor Huang Tu-shui (黃土水, 1895-1930) and painters Kuo Hsueh-hu (郭雪湖, 1908-2012), Chen Ching-fen (陳清汾, 1913-1987) , Chen De-wang (陳德旺, 1918-1984), and Hong Rui-lin (洪瑞麟, 1912-1996) were all born in Dadaocheng.

The Taiwan New Cultural Movement of the 1920s was an important era of cultural awakening in Taiwan. Through talks on democracy, lectures on culture, and various other activities, it drove the public to reconsider their understanding of themselves. With the conscious promotion among the public, it also promoted Taiwanese films, dramas, and literature. Breakthroughs in the fields of music, theater, literature, and arts launched an era of new cultural philosophy that is the most unrestrained and modern in Taiwan's history.

(Photo courtesy of Taiwan New Cultural Movement Memorial Museum)