The rescue and excavation of the Peinan Site led to planning and construction of the NMP.
In July 1980, while the construction of today's South Line Railway Station (formerly called the Peinan East Line Railway Station) and switchyard was in progress, the building work revealed prehistoric remains of great interest on the Peinan Site. Many slate coffins and exquisite artifacts buried with the dead inside the coffins were excavated one after another, attracting great interest from the public as well as unfortunately, some illegitimate excavation and looting due to extensive coverage from the media.
After the Taitung County Government submitted a proposal to the relevant authorities, construction of the railway station was halted. Furthermore, Professor Wen-hsun Sung of National Taiwan University was delegated to recruit students and form the Peinan Culture Archaeology Team to carry out excavations and preservation.
Since then, for over 10 years Professors Wen-hsun Sung and Chao-mei Lien have led the National Taiwan University Archaeology Team at the site during the summer/winter vacation periods. The area of excavation is over 10,000m2, and over 1,500 burials and tens of thousands of pieces of pottery and stone artifacts have been excavated. This area is definitely the biggest site in the archaeological history of Taiwan. Both scholars in Taiwan and from overseas agree that it is the most important and representative site of the mid-late Neolithic Age in Taiwan. The area is also the largest slate coffin burial complex within the Pan-Pacific Ocean and South-East Asian region.
Professor Sung suggested that if we were to preserve the Peinan Site, an outdoor museum regarding the site should be built nearby. This was the first proposal for building a museum based on the Peinan Site. After discussion and arguments, the NMP Planning Bureau was finally established on February 1, 1990. After 11 years of planning and construction, the NMP started its trial operation on July 10, 2001, and officially opened on August 17, 2002. It has established a foundation for the continuing development of the preservation and study of Taiwanese prehistoric culture.
The objectives of the NMP are to enlighten the public about the complexity and diversity of Taiwan's natural ecology, prehistory and its indigenous cultures through the functions of research, preservation, exhibition and recreation, as well as to encourage people to appreciate and respect the natural environment and cultures of this island.
Goals and Missions
The National Museum of Prehistory has constructed architectural facilities with a picturesque environment. It is not only the first museum based on the themes of prehistoric and indigenous cultures in Taiwan, the first museum that includes an Excavation Site, nature and wildlife park, as well as the museum building itself, but also a state-ranking museum located on the east coast of Taiwan. Therefore, the overall mission of the NMP is to build up social education in the midst of East Taiwan's beautiful mountains and waters, so that it can contribute to social education, academic research, cultural preservation and recreation. In addition to this, we look forward to the development of the NMP into a top-ranking museum that best presents local cultural features with an international viewpoint and international status, through the proposition of Taiwan's prehistory and indigenous cultures that were originated locally yet with content that is beyond national boundaries.
The Architecture and Landscape:
The Museum is designed by New York architect Michael Graves. It is situated to the south of Kangle Station with a rectangular area of approximately 10 hectare. The building itself is on the east side and the west side is the Scenic Garden. The building faces the east toward the Pacific Ocean and with the Central Mountains at the back.
The building basement is used for storage. The open-air Mountain Square is the center of the building, and is surrounded by a three-section compound that serves as functional areas. The east side is the entrance of the Visitor Center, the north side is the exhibition hall, the south side is the administrative hall, and the west side is the Half-moon Pond, which links to the Scenic Garden.
The design of the exterior wall resembles the pattern of indigenous weave, and reflects the unique characteristic of weaving in the indigenous culture. The local materials were largely used in the construction, including marble, ceramic bricks and slate. Earthly tone together with sky tone reflects the harmony of the nature and universe.
The main entrance of the museum is on the east side, and provides parking and underground toilets for the visitors. Sun Square is situated outside of the entrance, with a bronze sundial standing in the fountain to prepare the visitors for the prehistoric culture exhibition that they are about to enter.
On the two sides of the square, there are wide stairs that can be used as open-air seating during outdoor performance or just relaxation area for the visitors.
Administrative Building is the academic research and administrative center of the NMP. Two separate entrances lead to the building. The octagon international conference room on the second floor can accommodate various academic activities simultaneous interpretation equipment and seating capacity of 50. Classrooms are available to accommodate seminars for up to 60 people.
The first floor of Administrative Building is the museum library, which holds a collection of volumes about the natural history of Taiwan, the prehistoric culture and Austronesian tribes. Areas from second floor up are research rooms and offices of the administrative staff.
The Scenic Garden is an open area for recreation, strolling, play, exhibition, education and sightseeing. The winding path leads to every sightseeing spot in the garden. Each sightseeing spot has a unique theme and function, and is designed with specially selected plants.
Children's Play Area
Children's Play Area provides a variety of amusement facilities for children and brings a vibrant atmosphere to the Garden.
The Maze is an open-air substruction formed by granite walls and occasionally appearing water walls. It is misty inside the maze for unexpected fun.
Water Fountain Show
Enjoy the water fountain show as the columns of water dance gracefully to the music. At nighttime, the water fountain show is complemented by the light show for exceptional romantic feeling.
Bird Singing Square
Bird Singing Square is situated at the foot of the garden hill. Inside the circular flower wall are plants, such as pomegranate to attract birds.
The winding path leads to the summit, where the undulating mountain ranges, the glittery water of the Pacific Ocean form a picturesque scene. Relax and relieve your stress in the gentle breeze and the view of occasionally passing trains.