Yilan museum plays front-line role in promoting environmental education in Taiwan

Lanyang Museum (Taiwan Today photo)

Lanyang Museum (Taiwan Today photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan Today) -- A special exhibition titled “Eco-Rethink” is running through Sept. 3 at Lanyang Museum in northeastern Taiwan’s Yilan County. Organized in cooperation with Taipei City-based National Palace Museum and National Taiwan Museum, it is aimed at raising awareness of the importance of biodiversity and environmental protection.

On display at the event are a variety of cultural and scientific artifacts showcasing humankind’s efforts to document the natural world. These range from animal and plant specimens to historic world maps and descriptions of legendary creatures. Visitors can also explore immersive digital exhibits spotlighting depictions of flora and fauna in classical artworks.

According to Chen Bi-lin, director of the museum, this is the first time that the institution has collaborated with the national-level NPM and NTM. “‘Eco-Rethink’ is intended to educate audiences about diverse ecosystems and examine our relationship with the natural world,” he said. “Through the use of innovative technologies like augmented and virtual reality, it offers an engaging and informative visitor experience.”

The special exhibition aside, Lanyang Museum has much to offer visitors. Officially inaugurated in October 2010 and taking its name from the region’s Lanyang river and plain, the stylish facility is Taiwan’s first ecomuseum. Outside is a wetlands ecological park.

Designed by noted architect Kris Yao, the striking building is inspired by the cuesta landforms commonly seen along Taiwan’s northeastern coast, as well as other local features like Guishan Island and the coral reefs of nearby Wushi Harbor. The innovative structure won Yao the Far Eastern Outstanding Architectural Design Award in 2010.

Lanyang Museum focuses on showcasing the history and culture of Yilan, encompassing everything from its ecosystems, geology and original inhabitants to modern-day society. The facility displays replicas rather than real artifacts under the principle that all living plants and creatures should remain in their natural habitats. In the exhibition, “Misty Forest,” for instance, images, models and written materials, together with landscaping, lighting, projections and sound effects, are used to bring the local environment to life.

The museum is the perfect first stop for visitors to Yilan, with its compelling overview of the county providing a cultural and environmental context for more in-depth explorations.

Visitors to Lanyang Museum learn about Yilan’s diverse ecosystems, flora and fauna, geology and earliest inhabitants (Taiwan Today photo)

(This article is adapted from One Big Museum in the December 2010 issue of Taiwan Review. The Taiwan Review archives dating to 1951 are available online.)