The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (or National Taiwan Democracy Hall if you prefer) is fast becoming my favourite place to visit during the weekend, especially with the kids, and the Vermeer exhibition which is on now is another success. Following on from the Dali exhibition last year, this is another heavily sponsored exhibition with something for both adults and children regardless of whether you are aware of Vermeer.
One thing to make clear is that this is not an exhibition of original works, and this was expressly pointed out when we bought the tickets. Instead, the paintings on show are very high quality prints with HP to thank. I have to say the quality was indeed very good, and the HP Designjet Z3200ps printer is now on my wish list of things I would love to have but will never be able to afford.
The most famous painting is of course the Girl with the Pearl Earring, so follow the posters of that painting to get to the entrance of the exhibition. The exhibition is very well organised with plenty of staff on hand, most of whom seemed to speak English.
The displays are mostly in English and Chinese, including an introductory 4.5-minute film which is worth watching as it gives an overview of Vermeer’s life with a particular focus on Delft in Holland, Vermeer’s birthplace and perhaps greatest influence. Vermeer did not leave a huge body of work, so most of his paintings are on display.
In addition to the paintings, there are plenty of displays on Vermeer’s life and his famed use of light, which is a definite focus of the exhibition. These include some hands-on displays which went down very well with the children, including reconstructions of rooms, areas where you can see how Vermeer used light in his paintings, and an area where you can try on clothes from the period and take framed pictures.* The member of staff in this area was brilliant with our 6-year-old and really made the visit for her.
Compared to the Dali exhibition, the gift shop at the end of the exhibition is very well done. Where the Dali exhibition had a selection of fake moustaches and that was about it, you can buy prints of Vermeer’s work and a wide variety of related products. I would mention Miffy dressed in yellow and blue with pearl earrings, but I don’t want to put anyone off.
Our only complaint is that there weren’t seating areas from which to enjoy the paintings and to rest young legs. A small gripe though from an otherwise great visit.
The exhibition is open daily from 9am to 6pm and runs until May 4th. It costs NT$200 for adults and NT$180 for children over 90cm, which I think is good value and an excellent way to spend a rainy afternoon.
There is a website about the exhibition (Chinese only).
*You are allowed to take photos in the exhibition as long as you don’t use a flash.