Kinmen, alternatively known as Quemoy, is a border island of Taiwan about 150 km² which is near the southwestern coast of the People’s Republic of China, with merely 6 miles from Xiamen City. In 1949, Kinmen was a Hot Spot in the Cold War and there was a Martial Law Period in Kinmen from 1949 to 1992. It’s strategic location both for Taiwan and China's military forces and battlefield historical background making its traditional Minnan culture, military heritage of Cold War and natural environment preserved well.
The Kinmen Museum of History and Folklore is the largest cultural history museum in Kinmen. It was opened in 2010 and has a Minnan architectural style characterized by being amidst the mountain and the river. The museum primarily focuses on the theme of Kinmen’s history and traditional culture, serving as a hub of learning, inspiration, and civic engagement. Visitors can get to know the local history, stories of chain migration and regional religious customs, even people’s life on this beautiful island through different exhibitions.
This is my favorite museum in Kinmen and there are many local folklore and cultural heritage that can be seen in the museum, such as traditional paper-pasted art sculptures, ancient items of everyday use. The first exhibition hall takes us to the past life and contemporary history of the island. Additionally, the delicate reproduction of the Door God from Cai Ancestral Shrines in Qionglin which was represented the high standards of traditional art achievement and the traditional folk religions about protecting ancestral shrines from evil influences. Therefore, the Kinmen Museum of History and Folklore allows any individual the opportunity to glimpse into what is presented as Kinmen’s life.
The collections and exhibitions in the museum make the connection with collective memories and local communities, such as local clans, the overseas Chinese and historical figures, these show the diversity of Kinmen. There are many old pictures and voice recordings which visitors could imagine what Kinmen used to be possibly. For example, with interactive installations, visitors can hear the sound of soldiers training in the past to feel the daily atmosphere under tight military control during the Cold War.
The most attracting part is that there is a traditional Kinmen family hall of the overseas Chinese in the first exhibition hall, with two digital screens on both sides and showing a male and female ancestor portrait. Visitors can scan the QR code from the middle screen and choose a story that you might interested in and to see two 'vivid' ancestors in the portraits to tell the stories about their family history in Kinmen in local Minnan language.
By wandering in the Kinmen Museum of History and Folklore, people can realize more about this special frontline island. It is worth mentioning that there are many sightseeing spots around the museum, such as the battlefield heritage like Shishan (Mt. Lion) Howitzer Front and Mashan Observation Post etc. The way to the Kinmen Museum of History and Folklore are also many cattle on the roadside and different kinds of migratory birds which will definitely add some lovely surprises to your museum journey.
The museum is open to the public from 9 am to 5 pm, and it is closed on Tuesdays and on Lunar New Year Eve. Free admission for all. As the museum site is located in the suburb, there is two large parking lots available. I usually recommend getting here by driving cars, riding scooters or bikes. The museum's website and Facebook Page provide directions and information regarding a parking lots and buses.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/kmcpao
Official Website: https://kmcpao.kinmen.gov.tw/
Admission: free for all
Opening hours: Tue-Sun, 9am – 5pm
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Yiru is a columnist based in Kinmen who specializes in Cultural Heritage and Museum Interpretation. She was awarded an MA in Museum Studies from University of Leicester in 2019 and works as the Curator for the Kinmen Museum of History and Folklore. She can usually be found at museums in Taiwan, or on her own Facebook Page called 'The Museum Bar' which sharing international museum information to audiences who speak Chinese: