921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan: Remembering a tragedy
1:47 a.m. on September 21, 1999, Taiwan experienced one of
its worst natural disasters of the past century--a 7.3-magnitude
earthquake that devastated the central part of the island,
claimed more than 2,000 lives and injured more than 8,000
after the earthquake, the TVBS cable television network set
up a foundation for contributions. Donations poured in, with
more than NT$100 million being received in just over a month.
After much consideration, it was decided that part of the
funds should be set aside to build a memorial at the site
of GuangFu Junior High School in Taichung County's Wufeng
Town. Most of the school's buildings completely collapsed
and its distorted and up-lifted running track was one of the
most frequently recorded images from the quake.
these collapsed buildings and topographical changes
have been preserved in an outdoor museum setting as
evidence of the quake's severity. Next to this is the
Earthquake Images Hall. Visitors are asked to begin
their tour on the second floor, featuring modern art
exhibits pertaining to various aspects of the 921 Earthquake
and the history of quakes in Taiwan. TV screens in the
floor show news clips from coverage of the 921 Earthquake
by TV stations around the world.
hallway leading to the first floor has a series of photographs.
One section chronicles the efforts of international
rescue teams in their search for survivors, and has
a memorial space, hidden behind a black curtain. In
this darkened area, the names of the victims roll past
on the floor. A projected image of a flickering candle
provides the only other light. The final section of
the hallway features very moving photos of people in
front of their collapsed homes, or holding up pictures
of killed loved ones. There are also photos of victim
protests, a reminder of the difficulties still faced
the first floor is one of the hall's most intense experiences--a
quake re-enactment film shown on a large screen under a transparent
floor. Visitors are asked to sit or kneel and look down at
the screen--for those afraid of heights, the experience can
be a little unsettling. The short film shows buildings and
bridges violently shaking, then collapsing, accompanied by
frighteningly realistic sound effects.
Earthquake Images Hall and the outdoor museum officially
opened to the public on September 21, 2002. With this
opening, the TVBS foundation, having spent what it could
on this project, turned it over to the Ministry of Education
and the National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung
to continue building, operation and management. The current
facilities are actually just the first phase of development.
To strengthen the museum's educational function, a docent
center and second exhibition hall are expected to open
on September 21, 2003.
those who experienced the 921 Earthquake, a visit here is
certain to bring back a flood of memories and emotions. For
those who were not directly affected, this is an opportunity
to witness the devastation that an earthquake can cause, as
well as the outpouring of emotion that continues to be evident
even three years after the original disaster.
Earthquake Museum of Taiwan
42, FuHsing Rd., Sec. 1. Wufeng Town, Taichung County
Tel: (04) 2339-0906
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9 am-4-30 pm