National Museum of Prehistory


Ralph Appelbaum Associates

Practice Area


National Museum of Prehistory


Project Vision

This new museum incorporates the important archeological research and results of the excavations done in Taiwan and presents a comprehensive story of the island’s prehistoric cultures for the first time.

Since the archeological record is incomplete, the museum was reluctant to link existing Aboriginal with all prehistoric cultures and they desired an interpretive and physical separation in the layout. The challenge was to cover all the archeological work in Taiwan with limited resources and material while allowing for future expansion and incorporation of new artifacts and information.

The designers created a fluid connection between the contemporary Aboriginal cultures and certain prehistoric cultures of Taiwan, erasing many of the planned walls between the academically separated galleries.

White tableaux figures for prehistoric peoples and white “fill” to complete/form the pottery shards into vessels for display and provide a level of “finish” for the ornamental artifacts. Taiwan’s geography is projected onto large video screens, below which the imaged, recreated figures go about their daily lives – fishing, making pottery, cooking – as pieced together from archeological evidence.

Project Details
The installation has a fine blend of high-quality display and interpretation of archeological objects and information within a rich, contemporary exhibit environment. The vibrant, deep color palette and rich wood enliven the concept of archeology and give it an immediacy and directness. The restrained display of the objects is elegant and yet accessible to visitors. The use of contemporary video and computer interactives is thoughtfully integrated into the environment, very effectively co-existing with tableaux and object displays. The dramatic lighting serves to direct visitors to the displays, creating an ambiance of wonder and mystery. The signage is thoughtfully integrated into the overall environment without being obtrusive.
Juror 1
Design Team

Design Team, Design CompetitionProfessor Randall White of New York University, Phillip Tefft, Cheryl Filsinger, Eli Kuslansky, Joel Hoffman, Enid deGraciaMasterplanningScott Simeral, Evelyn Reilly, Don MacKinnonImplementationDeborah Wolff (Project Administrator); Douglas Balder (Project Manager), Simon Chang (Construction Administrator), Colby Wang (Project Designer), Michelle Solenberger (Project Designer), Victoria Klycharev (Project Designer), Jeremy Davis (Project Designer), Joyce Wang (Senior Graphic Designer/Translator/Construction Administrator), Hsin-yi Hsu (Graphic Designer), Tai-shun Lee (Graphic Designer), Miranda Smith (Content Developer), Tung-hsiao Chou (Content Coordinator/Translator), Shu-chun Huang (Content Coordinator/Translator), Sylvia Juran (Editor) 

Design Firm

Ralph Appelbaum Associates


Electrosonic Systems, Inc., Toronto, ONT, Canada (Audio-Visual Systems); Lee and Lee Communications, Inc. (Interactive Media); H.M. Brandston & Partners, Inc., New York, NY (Lighting); Severud Associates Consulting Engineers, P.C., New York, NY (Structural Engineering); Michael Graves, Princeton, NJ (Design Architect)


Megatrend Engineering & Construction Corporation, Taiwan, ROC; United Task Marketing, Inc., Taiwan, ROC