Introducing Taipei’s modern art scene, contemporary art space, and Instagram moments… Today’s art-savvy social media users may have a lot of (huh, snobbish) qualities. They love fashion (vain), read *literature* (not just books), appreciate old & exotic movies (that I might sleep through), appreciate art (that I love), enjoy coffee culture, and post moody & Photoshop photos on social media… and so much more. While we are now all totally immersed in using social media, everyone is constantly in search of Instagram moments – whether it’s food, street art, or fashion…
The development of classical arts is actually very much established in Europe while world-class art museums are basically everywhere (I did pick out My Top Classical Art Galleries in my previous posts, but there’s so much more).
Now, I am talking about the contemporary art scene in Asia, which is getting more and more vibrant these years. New art markets, creative parks, contemporary art museums, and art galleries are popping up like mushrooms in many major cities of Asia (a.k.a Singapore, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing & even Bangkok.).
The purpose of these projects was to establish a public platform for the cultural and creative industry. Taipei, for example, has rejuvenated several heritage sites and converted them into art villages and multi-purpose venues for art events and performances.
With the support of local government and big conglomerates, local artists could have a place to showcase their work and products to a bigger crowd audience. Better yet, these places usually create a LOT of Instagram-worthy moments that of course would attract many “trendy” travelers to visit. 🙂
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei Story House, and Maji Maji Taipei, together with a bundle of historical sites and parks are located near the Yuanshan station area.
Together they form a greenbelt along the Dajia River with lots of food, culture, and recreation. Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM) is at the Taipei Expo Park and it was the first museum in Taiwan built for Contemporary Art Exhibitions. Until today the site is still hosting a number of important temporary art exhibitions; When I visited there, there was a temporary exhibition themed “A Space Andante”, while selected works from its collection were on display, exploring the concept of space in abstract art.
The story began with the founder of Spatialism, Italian artist Lucio Fontana, who initiated a new type of art by slashing the canvas. While a canvas could have been a single-colored surface, it then became multi-dimensional with raw holes. Other artists like Arman, Hans (Jean) Arp, Gunther Uecker, Suda Yoshihiro, and Taiwanese artists like Lee Tsai-Chien, Dawn Chen-Ping, and Chen Hui-Chiao were featured in the exhibition.
Maji-Maji, close by to the museum, is a trendy market with food and entertainment; it was great to grab a drink and snack after visiting the site!
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park was opened in 2005 and it is a charming reconstruction of the Taihoku Winery during Japanese rule. The main factory buildings and warehouses were kept but they are converted into boutique shops, restaurants, cultural movie theaters, and exhibition spaces.
Many mini-concerts and shows are held in the front yard of this multi-purpose park as well. Conveniently located in the city center, the park is within walking distance from Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station of the Taipei Metro. I visit there every time I am in town and there’s always something new and exciting going on.
For example, I visited Yayoi Kusama’s Pop-up Café 2 years ago, and when I was there a few months ago, the same space turned into an interesting gift shop.
National Taiwan Museum
The National Taiwan Museum is an impressive colonial-style architecture in Taipei that was established in 1908. It is a museum of history that showcases a rich collection of historic items in five sections: anthropology, earth sciences, zoology, botany, and education. While it’s not exactly an art museum in the group, it’s an important cultural site that visitors should not miss if they want to learn more about the country’s fascinating past. It’s a great place for family visitors too.
Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei
I wasn’t aware of the MOCATaipei (Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei) until I was near the Taipei Main Station in the Datong District the other day. Honestly, it is not a prestigious art museum compared with many others, but the museum was an elementary school, a historic landmark during Japanese rule in 1921. The museum showcased several contemporary art exhibitions when I was there, including Filipino artist Ronald Ventura, and Taiwan-born American artist Leigh Wen. I was impressed by Leigh’s works and narratives, especially paintings of flowers, waves, and landscapes, as they showed femininity through delicate lines and soft colors.
Songshan Cultural and Creative Park
Songshan Cultural and Creative Park is a new addition that opened in 2011. It is a conversion from an old tobacco plant, constructed in 1937, during Japanese rule. The purpose of the park is to establish a public platform for the cultural and creative industry.
Co-opting with a local bookstore giant, Eslite, the site consists of a department store building (the design of the building is an open book), the Taiwan Design Museum, the Taiwan Design Center (TDC), a restaurant, and boutique stores.
Shintomicho Cultural Market
The Manhua district is an old district that is off the tourist track; however, it showcases the other side of Taipei with old-times architecture and street food. It is a good way to get in touch with the lives and history of the locals. Shintomicho Cultural Market is smaller than the famous Huashan 1914 Cultural Park, yet it is worth a visit.
The market is funded by the JUT Foundation and it officially opened in 2016. The site was an old market during the Japanese colonial period, and it’s a charming conversion into a new landmark with a cafe, shared offices, an exhibition hall, and photo-taking spots. It is a good way to experience old architecture in Taipei.
The market has a simplistic design and keeps the flavor of old architecture. Exit the Longshan Temple MRT Station, sign up for a guided tour at the entrance office, and then enjoy a cup of Qingcao herbal Tea at the MOT coffee.
JUT Art Museum
JUT Art Museum is funded by JUT Foundation and they devoted themselves to Taipei’s art development. The art museum opened in 2016 but it focuses on creative architecture and future city developments; it hosts several temporary art exhibitions featuring local and international architects and artists, exploring topics like the Third Generation City and future housing.
For those who wonder what people may (or can) live like in the future, their exhibitions offer some interesting ideas and insights.
Dadaocheng / Dihua Street
Maybe Dadaocheng is less popular and well-known than the Huashan and Songshan creative parks – but Dihua Street has a 1920s-old Shanghai vibe. It is a historic market street that is filled with old tea houses, traditional gift shops, and historic buildings.
Today, the area is rejuvenated by adding design stores, coffee shops, mini-theatres, and studios. The neighborhood is turned into an art and culture district. Drop by the visitor center in front of the Yongle Market Building, and get a map and leaflet for more information on the latest shows, arts and crafts workshops, or tea tasting and demonstration programs.
Then, walk along Dihua Street, explore the pottery shops, mail a postbox at the old post office, and sip a cup of tea in one of the tea houses before joining these activities or catching a show. I recommend Art Yard Cafe – a nostalgic tea house with some good tea choices, and lovely products of teapot and tea leaves.
For more Instagram-worthy moments, visit:
“Spot” Taipei – a cultural and movie center converted from the former American Consulate in Taipei
Banqiao 435 Art zone – beautiful mosaic artwork on the wall of an underground walking tunnel
Nangang Metro Station – colorful wall paintings by local illustration artist Jimmy Liao
MAJI MAJI – a restaurant and a design store cluster near Taipei Art Museum~