Based at the only museum in the country focusing on Taiwan’s history, the National Museum of Taiwan (NMTH) History Research Group hopes to establish the research of Taiwan’s history with museum thinking and museum characteristics, while promoting the “NMTH History" research brand. Historians in museums differ from researchers at research institutions and colleges. The former are responsible for the social participation and public promotion tasks of “curators,” including: curatorial research, collection research, education promotion, access to resources, public dialogue, social participation,and so on. Therefore, the research feature of museum history is to use the museum as a platform to hold discourse and communicate with contemporary society, thus generating positive reactions and influence, to maximize the effectiveness of the museum.
Core Research Project
Rethinking Colonial Modernity
The NMTH has previously organized special exhibitions such as "The Voices: The 80th Anniversary Special Exhibition of the Musha Incident", "The Great Change of 1895: The 120th Anniversary Special Exhibition of the Japanese invasion of Taiwan" and other special exhibitions. Interpreting several important historical events of the Japanese era from multiple perspectives, and publishing books such as Chinese Historical Materials on the Japanese Invasion of Taiwan, Foreign Historical Materials on the Japanese Invasion of Taiwan (1) to (3), and Translation of Japanese Historical Materials on the Musha Incident. In addition, there is also a permanent exhibition of "The Depression and Dreams of the New Order" in the Japanese era. In order to communicate with the public and reflect on current academic issues, the research topic "Rethinking Colonial Modernity" is being carried out. The research results will be used in future exhibitions in the museum. In order to discuss related issues, it is necessary to re-examine the changes during the 50 years of the Japanese era. As well as explore the topic of political and social changes in the early Japanese era, and inspect post-colonial and anti-colonial issues in the 1920s.
History of Taiwanese Sound
To establish its collection of old records, the museum has cooperated with many collection agencies and collectors for data collection, cultural relic procurement, and technical cooperation. It has digitalized the records held in the museum, and created file uploading procedures. The "100 Years of Taiwan in Sound" platform has operated since 2015. The "100 Years of Listening to Taiwan" activity has been an annual event since 2017, and the "Taiwan History in Sound Seminar" was organized. Volunteers were invited to conduct monthly sharing sessions to interpret recordings and develop experimental works such as soundscape collections. Relevant research topics include:
1.Auditory collection of audio historical materials;
2.Promotion of Taiwan historical research with audio as the core;
3.Collection of auditory memory;
4.Intervention of contemporary social and cultural issues through sound.
A Museum Responding to Society-Contemporary Collection and Research
Museums should take the initiative to care and act, and use "museum as a method" to stimulate multi-topic discussions and transformation possibilities in society. The museum received materials collected by Academia Sinica in 2016 relating to the March 18 Citizens Movement of 2014, and handled the "Force, Breaking Point: Special Exhibition of Postwar Social Movements in Taiwan" in 2019. While continuing to collect social-movement objects, in 2016, following the February 6 earthquake in Tainan, we also devoted ourselves to rescuing objects. Recording and preserving major traumatic events soothes people, concentrates society’s common memory, and moves us forward. In2017, we handled the "Taiwan and Japan -- Review Modern Times with the History of Earthquakes" International Exhibition. In 2019-2020, as the coronavirus pandemic swept the world, the NMTH promoted the "COVID-19 (Wuhan Pneumonia) Protective Equipment and Picture Collection Project" to document the nationwide pandemic prevention operation.
1.Force, Breaking Point: Special Exhibition of Postwar Social Movements in Taiwan
2."Taiwan and Japan -- Review Modern Times with the History of Earthquakes" International Exhibition
3.COVID-19 (Wuhan Pneumonia) Protective Equipment and Picture Collection Project
4.COVID-19 (Wuhan Pneumonia) Protective Equipment collected by NMTH in 2020
5.In 2018, participants of the Anti-Black Box Curriculum Movement (2015) were invited to the museum to share their protest actions and descriptions of the objects.
Historical Interpretation and Fulfillment of Community Development
This research theme focuses on the historical interpretation and practice of community viewpoints, and on how "history" becomes a resource for judgement and criterion for action. Furthermore, as researchers, how do we use historical research to transform and inspire life philosophy and practical action? The exhibitions “From All Sides: Special Exhibition of Modern Taiwanese Immigrants’ Stories”, “The Map is Really Something: The History of Taiwan from a Map”, and the “Detached, Island Special Exhibition” that our museum has curated in the past all focus on the dialogue between history and contemporary society. The tentatively-titled “East Asian Seaport City,” a special exhibition planned to open in 2024, will focus on how early East Asian cultural exchanges continue to exert their influence on the contemporary era.
Mapping Taiwan: Taiwanese Society, Public Image, Knowledge and Intersection in Maps and Images
Non-textual visual materials such as maps and images once played an important role in the process of interaction between people from all walks of life in Taiwan. In addition to containing extremely rich historical context, they also paint a diverse and complex image of Taiwan. After all, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The NMTH has collected a large number of maps and paintings, and through "Reprints of Existing Japanese Taiwan Pictorial", "Longitudinal Formosa: Related Maps of Taiwan in the 16th-19th Centuries Drawn by Westerners", and "Maps Are Very Important: Maps, a History of Taiwan" and other exhibitions, it has presented these unique collections to the public. With the continuous progress of related research, maps and images also help open up approaches to the study of Taiwan’s history, allowing for the exploration of historical topics related to diverse perspectives, knowledge creation, and visual culture.
Gender Studies in Taiwan’s History
The National Museum of Taiwan History (NMTH) has held special exhibitions devoted to military villages, the south’s landscapes, new residents, postwar social movements, and other topics. These often take into account issues related to women from multiple perspectives. There has been a continuous discussion on gender issues of different ethnic and demographic groups such as students, working-class women, female immigrants, and even female missionaries in the context of foreign relations in the 19th century. Focusing on the theme "History of Life as a Woman," we actively discuss application methods, such as how oral history is handled by different organizations, how we can preserve the memories of neglected women, and how we may re-discover unseen life experiences. To further encourage a gender-conscious co-construction of history/memory in the museum, based on accumulated historical materials, cultural relics and images, "Taiwan Women’s Website" has been revised. We aim to perfect and share with the general public local gender-related research knowledge to bolster awareness of gender equality.
Taiwan Women Series-History Monograph
Organized the "Life History of Taiwanese Women: Methods and Examples" forum, attracting many oral historians to participate
Research on Watershed and Society in Taiwan's Water Culture
Responding to the challenges humanity faces in a time of climate change, the relationship between humankind and nature is being reconsidered. The NMTH is part of the public sector, and it has formed a water-issues cooperation team with relevant government units, agricultural and irrigation groups, cultural assets, research centers, and non-governmental organizations. It hopes to establish a society that is sensitive to changes in the water environment, and build local awareness of environmental history. In 2018, the special exhibition "Float or Sink: Water Culture in Taiwan" addressed the relationship between man and nature along the Zengwen River. Until 2023, the Chianan Irrigation System is the core of an exhibition that connects environmental developments, history, engineering, and society in southern water culture. With historical and material research as the foundation, the NMTH is building a pioneering knowledge system for Taiwan’s various water cultures.
Float or Sink: Water Culture in Taiwan
Carrying Cities and Walking Streams: Taijiang Natural Conditions
Research on the Dynamics of Communal Life History in Modern Taiwan
While mastering the orientation of local knowledge and social research, and expanding research of the history of regional exchanges, we focus on four major aspects: historical data collection and research development; the evolution of the legal system; economic and social interaction; and the deep accumulation of history and culture. We consolidate research topics to carry out analysis of logical viewpoints, and with the concept of storytelling through relics, workshops, and curatorial activities, we establish topics on communal life history. Cross-disciplinary characteristics of the collection helped us implement "Go to Taiwan -- Collection of Cultural Relics Special Exhibition" (2012), "Old State Restoration: Special Exhibition of Taiwanese Society in the 19th Century" (2015), and "One of a Kind: A Special Exhibition of Lin Chao-Ying's Family Style" (2016). By extending object type and function into topic-oriented integration, we grasp the richness of Taiwan's communal life.
Collection and Promotion of Diversified History Research Resources
Text is not the only way in which knowledge can be shared. The development of digital technology has given museums greater possibilities. Traditional museum resources such as research, collection, exhibitions, and education can be held in and accessed via the cloud, enabling the museum to reach far beyond those who visit in person. In the future, the museum aims to become the "Taiwan History Multi-Resource Center," a network and platform managing Taiwan’s historical resources. Through our user management plan, Taiwan’s history will be interpreted, and historical research and education will be promoted. By gradually consolidating Taiwan's historical knowledge base, we can bring into existence a cloud-based digital museum.