The National Museum of Natural Science is the first of three science museums built in Taiwan, under a national plan for the implementation of 12 cultural construction projects announced by the Executive Yuan in 1977. The museum’s planning office was established in 1981 and the Executive Yuan appointed Pao-Teh Han, then dean of the College of Science and Engineering at National Chung Hsing University, to oversee it. The planning office set forth two goals for the development of this museum:
- To explain the principles and phenomena of natural science and to stimulate the public’s interest in science. In addition, to assist schools at all levels to achieve their educational goals and to form a foundation for the long-term development of the natural sciences in Taiwan.
- To collect representative natural specimens from Taiwan (including anthropological relics) to contribute to the museum’s collection and research efforts and its exhibition and education functions.
The themed exhibitions of this museum integrate technology, life, and art, and are people-oriented. This museum was constructed in four phases as follows: Phase 1: Space Theater and Science Center; Phase 2: Life Science Hall; Phase 3: Human Cultures Hall (formerly Chinese Science Hall); Phase 4: Global Environment Hall.
The Science Center, Space Theater, Administration Building, and outdoor gardens were completed at a cost of more than NT$460 million. They opened to the public on January 1, 1986. UK designer James Gardner was commissioned to design the Life Science Hall exhibitions, which were produced by Beck and Politzer, also based in the UK, at a total cost of NT$1.13 billion. This hall officially opened in August 1988. The Human Cultures Hall consists of 6 galleries, while the Global Environment Hall includes Microscopic World, Life on Earth, Bird’s Eye View Theater, 3-D Theater, and Environment Theater. These facilities were created by well-known professional design companies in the US, Japan, and the UK at a total cost of NT$3.3 billion and completed simultaneously in 1993.
In its entirety, this museum covers an area of 87,276 square meters. Every year, it welcomes 3 million visitors. To promote Taichung’s development and beautification efforts, as well as to take advantage of this museum’s professional competencies and educational concepts, the Taichung City Government made available 44,856 square meters of land, that had been set aside to construct number 54 park, to this museum to plan and construct the Botanical Garden, which opened to the public on July 23, 1999.
On September 21, 1999, the campus of Kuang-Fu Junior High School in Wufeng Township of Taichung County was destroyed during the Chi-Chi Earthquake. It was later designated by the Ministry of Education as a site for remembering and educating people about what has become known as the 921 Earthquake. This led to the development of the 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan for which the National Museum of Natural Science carried out planning and construction. It now also oversees its promotion and operations. Once the contents of the Chelungpu Fault Gallery and Image Gallery were upgraded, the 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan opened to the public on September 21, 2004. The second and third phases of this museum were completed in August 2007 and opened to the public on September 21 that same year. The exhibition halls include the Chelungpu Fault Gallery, Earthquake Engineering Hall, Image Gallery, Disaster Prevention Hall, and Reconstruction Records Hall.
Following the government’s organizational reform, the National Museum of Natural Science was tasked with overseeing a total of 3 parks, Fonghuanggu Bird and Ecology Park, 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan, and Chelungpu Fault Preservation Park, beginning January 1, 2013. The Administration Center of Natural Science Education Parks was established to coordinate the exhibitions, educational activities, recreational and leisure activity planning, research, operations, and promotion of these 3 parks, integrating important nature conservation and science education resources in central Taiwan and bringing their social education, cultural, and recreational functions into play.
The Fonghuanggu Bird and Ecology Park covers an area of more than 30 hectares and includes displays of birds from different countries raised in captivity, as well as crane garden, low to medium elevation nature and ecological trails, waterfall landscapes, and historic carved stone monument. It offers regular educational activities on themes related to nature and ecology, such as firefly viewing, stargazing, insects, plants, and birds to provide the public with ecological education opportunities amid rich natural and ecological landscapes.
The Chelungpu Fault Preservation Park officially opened on January 30, 2013. It is comprised of two exhibition halls, the Fault Trench Preservation Hall and Geoscience Hall. In the former is maintained and displayed the precious Chelungpu Fault Trench. The latter provides opportunities for learning about geoscience through rich and diverse exhibitions and serves as a cultural and recreational venue.