Taiwan’s National Palace Museum Digitizes 70,000 Images of From Its Vast Collection

The growing virtual museum is part of the institution's Open Data photo-sharing initiative.

Detail from a work by Fan Kuan (11th century). Courtesy the Taiwan National Palace Museum.

Taiwan’s National Palace Museum, which boasts one of the world’s largest collections of Chinese artifacts and artworks, is expanding—virtually. The museum has digitized 70,000 images of its vast holdings.

The images are available to download for free, along with information about the objects’ histories, as part of the museum’s Open Data photo-sharing initiative. While a number of institutions now offer digitized archives, the Palace Museum is the first to put a Chinese art collection of this size online, according to the BBC.

The Palace Museum’s digital push comes after the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced an Open Access policy in February that allows users to download and share images of more than 375,000 items in its collection.

A carved Jade table from the National Palace Museum. Courtesy, National Palace Museum, Taiwan.

A carved Jade table from the National Palace Museum. Courtesy, National Palace Museum, Taiwan.

The National Palace Museum’s collection first formed out of the tumult of China’s civil war, when thousands of artifacts were evacuated to Taiwan from Beijing. By 1949, Mao Zedong’s Communist Party had seized power in China, and the collection never returned home, remaining instead at the National Palace Museum.

Its holdings, much of which came from the original Palace Museum in the Forbidden City in Beijing, include paintings by celebrated 11th-century artists Fan Kuan and Guo Xi, as well as a 12th-century scroll by Zhang Zeduan that has been described as “China’s Mona Lisa.”

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