National Museum of Prehistory

Taitung, Taiwan

In 1980, construction of Taitung Station of the South-Line Railway unearthed prehistoric remains at Peinan, which would become the largest archaeological site on the island. Excavations there gave birth to the National Museum of Prehistory.

Incorporating archaeological research and items uncovered in these excavations, the museum offers the first comprehensive presentation of the island’s prehistoric cultures. The exhibition explores the early Formosan peoples and their formative links to Pacific-region societies, and it includes rare objects, such as slate-slab coffins and intricately crafted articles, buried with the dead, that date from 32,000 BCE.

RAA posited concepts for the museum's layout, created its master plan, and developed an interpretive program and an expandable exhibition system.

Large video-screen projections of Taiwan's geography provide a media context through which life-size figures go about their daily lives—fishing, making pottery, cooking—as pieced together from archaeological evidence. Cases line the perimeter walls, and settings present systematic collections of similar artifacts, rare treasures, and mystery objects. Interactive technology offers in-depth data in gaming formats.

The Central Hall is a public forum where visitors can express their points of view about the relationship between people, nature, and culture.

National Museum of Prehistory, Taiwan

Michael Graves & Associates


33,000 square feet

  • Society for Environmental Graphic Design, Merit Award, Exhibition Design/Museum Environments

© 2014, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Inc.