A special exhibition jointly organized by Academia Historica, the National Museum of Prehistory, the Dutch Rijksmuseum, and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa titled "Beautiful Islands" will take place at the first-floor Cultural Gallery at the Xinzhuang Joint Office Tower in New Taipei City from Jan. 3 through June 30.
This exhibition shall look at the context and spread of the Austronesian cultures from the perspective of Taiwan as a fellow Austronesian country, hoping to expand the horizons of the Taiwanese people and boost understanding of the diverse cultures of neighboring countries.
Wang Chang-hua (王長華), director of the National Museum of Prehistory, explains that a variety of Taiwanese outputs have impacted Oceania over the past five millennia, including languages, the spread of a cultivar of paper mulberry tree indigenous to Taiwan, and a multitude of handicrafts and survival skills.
Combing through the global history of the Austronesian cultures can thus give the world a better understanding of Taiwan as well. This exhibition is a preview of the upcoming revamp of the National Museum of Prehistory’s exhibit on world Austronesian cultures, and hopes to provide visitors with different lens through which to examine these diverse cultures.
Not only will this exhibition introduce the cultures of Oceania, it will also incorporate the history of Insular Southeast Asia (contemporary term for the "East Indies"). During the Age of Discovery, the Dutch East India Company expanded the scope of its operations throughout Asia. For example, all correspondence and business information from Fort Zeelandia in Taiwan and Hirado in Japan had to be transcribed and sent to the company's base of operations in Batavia (now Jakarta) in Indonesia.
Having collected and studied historical data from a variety of sources, the National Museum of Prehistory has sought the consent of the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands to use the museum's original digitalized collection on the basis of facilitating bilateral sharing of information. These original works have been duplicated at full size for use in the exhibition, enabling the public to see for themselves the life and culture of the Indonesian archipelago, which forms a part of the Austronesian language group, during the 17th century.
In addition, the National Museum of Prehistory has been working in cooperation with Academia Historica since 2019 on a transfer of cultural relics encompassing more than 300 cultural relics received by previous presidents and vice presidents, gifted mostly by dignitaries from Oceania. In coordination with this special exhibition, 14 such relics have been chosen to be exhibited publicly for the first time, along with 35 from the National Museum of Prehistory.
This special exhibition aims to provide visitors with a greater understanding of the history of Oceania and Insular Southeast Asia in temporal, spatial, and geographic contexts. It also looks at the true stories of three women from today and history, reflecting the stories of three island nations (Indonesia, the Marshall Islands, and New Zealand) by taking a female perspective on the past, present, and future.
These three women, in different ways, shall explain their ongoing struggles concerning land rights, colonialism, and the revival of their cultures in the face of global climate change, as well as the emotional connections they have to these beautiful islands.
The exhibition also uses the poems of Marshallese poet Kathy Jetfini-Kijiner to tie everything together. It is hoped that the exhibition will inspire visitors to see themselves as citizens of the world, opening up new perspectives on neighboring countries while fostering further understanding of Taiwan.
Date: Jan. 3 – June 30, 2020 (Weekdays Only)
Time: 9am – 5pm
Venue: Xinzhuang Joint Office Tower (1F Cultural Gallery)
Address: No. 439 Zhongping Road, Xinzhuang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan (ROC)