Taipei Through the Ages: The Discovery Center of Taipei
Words by: Jamie R. Wood
Photos by: Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government, Samil Kuo
▲To understand the past and present of the city, Discovery Center of Taipei is the best place to start.
A hundred years after its establishment as a center of administration, Taipei City is still surprising people with its ever-changing cityscape. Sure, the neon lights of the Xinyi shopping district illuminate the lives of the younger generations, but the natural light that shines through the vintage windows of the historical buildings in Dadaocheng remains as fascinating as it’s always been since the 1920s.
For those unfamiliar with Taipei’s past and present, Discovery Center of Taipei (台北探索館) at Taipei City Hall offers you a chance to learn plenty about both in a single visit. Join us on this journey that takes you on a walk through the ages.
EXHIBITION HALLS AT DISCOVERY CENTER OF TAIPEI
Discovery Center of Taipei is a museum with four floors of exhibition halls. Each hall is dedicated to a different Taipei-centric theme.
TAIPEI IMPRESSIONS HALL
This is basically the lobby. The nine-meter wide screen on the wall catches visitors’ eyes with projected videos that showcase Taipei from day to night, and all through the four seasons.▲Step on the striking hot air balloon in “Taipei's Streets,” where the view of Taipei is vividly showcased on a big screen.
SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS HALL
Seasonal or thematic exhibitions are frequently held in the Special Exhibitions Hall on the second floor, with subjects covered including art, history, culture, food and more. Currently, “Fumeancats Meets Taipei in 1920 (黃阿瑪相遇1920臺北市)” is exhibiting until December 31, which shows how Taipeiers lived their lives a century ago.
“Fumeancats Meets Taipei in 1920”
As previously stated, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the official establishment of Taipei City. As a result, the Taipei City Government is holding a special exhibition at Discovery Center of Taipei. With the influencers Fumeancats (黃阿瑪) being the event ambassadors, the exhibition brings you into their daydreams of the roaring 1920s. It was a time when Taipei was still covered with many rice fields and farmhouses, and people were only just recently introduced to certain aspects of Western culture, such as wearing suits, drinking coffee and driving automobiles. Museums and schools were built one after the other as civilization began to spread and grow.▲Fumeancats (left), from a well-known YouTube channel, and Bravo (right), the mascot of Taipei City, invite you to explore western clothing stores in Taipei from 1920. (Photo/Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government)
Fumeancats were transformed into the characters of students, doctors, or businessmen, taking you into the daily lives of Taipei residents at that time of growth and cultural expansion. From children going to school to students seeking medical help at a medical room, the old days are vividly presented in black-and-white photos and long-preserved documents. There will also be interactive touch screens displaying the contrasting scenes of Taipei in 1920 and the present day, giving you a full understanding of Taipei’s transformation over a hundred years.▲Street scene in 1920 in Taipei is showcased at special exhibition “Fumeancats Meets Taipei in 1920.”
CITY DISCOVERY HALL
There are five interactive exhibition areas within the City Discovery Hall on the third floor. Each exhibition area puts Taipei’s present-day street scenes on display, but from different angles. Highlights include “An Express City — A Relaxed Journey,” which combines features of food culture, the shopping districts, and the MRT system with a projected board game on the floor, allowing you to get to know the city in a fun format while capturing the daily life rituals in Taipei’s oldest neighborhoods. ▲The interactive exhibitions include (but are not limited to) projected board games on the floor and a model of a street food stand.
Besides this, a conspicuous hot air balloon in “Taipei's Streets” should immediately catch your eyes upon entry. If you stand in the balloon, dazzling city views projected on a massive screen will flash before your eyes. As for “New West Side Story,” this area gives you a brief introduction to the west of Taipei. There are also exhibitions that give you a glimpse of Taipei in the ‘60s, as well as showing Taipei’s outdoor greenery from its parks to the surrounding mountains of the Taipei Basin.▲Step on the striking hot air balloon in “Taipei's Streets,” where the view of Taipei is vividly showcased on a big screen.
THE “DIALOGUE WITH TIME” HALL
Prepare yourself for some time travel at the “Dialogue with Time” Hall on the fourth floor. With a hundred years’ worth of transformation, this is where you can begin to learn all about Taipei’s past. “Old Taipei City” first takes you back 300 years to the time when indigenous people still lived here before the arrival of the Han people from China. ▲Discovery Center of Taipei is presenting the origin of Taipei and its evolution through the years.
The five gates built during the Qing Dynasty are recreated in models and presented in “Stories of the City.” Follow the flow of “The Tamsui River” — the river that helped the sugarcane, tea, and camphor industries thrive. As for “The City’s Many Faces,” this exhibition area summarizes the diversity of the city, as it blends the legacies of the Dutch, the Han people and the Japanese, all of whom once called, or still call, Taipei home.▲In the “Dialogue with the Time” Hall, you can also try your luck by drawing a stick and getting a poem that’ll tell your fortune.
Discovery Theater (發現劇場) is an enormous 660-square meter theater with a 360-degree annulus screen. Furthermore, the seating area will rotate as the movie rolls on giving audiences an unprecedented visual experience. All the films are related to Taipei’s stories of past and present, with no admission charge.
9:30am / 10:00am / 10:30am / 11:00am / 2:00pm / 2:30pm / 3:00pm / 3:30pm
(Tuesday to Sunday)
Besides learning about Taipei’s old and new, exploring the city by day and night is also a cool way to see some different facets of the capital. Everyone knows that daytime in Taipei is full of excitement, such as embracing the spiritual side of the city at Longshan Temple, or sampling some xiaolongbao (小籠包) on Yongkang Street (永康街), but what can you expect to see at night? The answers are packed into the newly-released short film Yeah! Taipei, now screening at the Discovery Theater.
The night adventure begins with hopping on a double-decker bus to have a night tour of Taipei, where you can experience the charm of the hustle and bustle of the city in
comfort. A trip to Taipei isn’t complete if you haven’t tried shrimping, a fun pastime that locals enjoy, spending some quality time with friends or their significant others. Last but not least, invite your friends to explore the local night markets and taste everything from Taiwanese sausages to amazing bubble tea. Along with more seasonal night events related to culture, religion or art, the nights of Taipei are presented in all their 360-degree glory in Yeah! Taipei at the Discovery Theater. ▲Yeah! Taipei is a new release at the Discovery Theater, with a 360-degree screen to provide an unprecedented experience.
🏠Discovery Center of Taipei
1, City Hall Rd. Xinyi Dist.
9:00am - 5:00pm (Closed on Mondays)
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