Famous wood-carver and sculptor Ju Ming has built a huge museum in the hills of JinShan (金山). It is a great place to visit for an equal mix of art and outdoor exercise. Young kids will love it, but Ju Ming’s works also offer a lot for grown ups to contemplate too.
By Stuart Hill
Especially suited to a cool sunny spring or autumn day when the weather isn’t too hot or too cold, a visit to the outdoor sculpture gardens alone are value enough as a great Taipei day trip. Due to its remoteness, roughly located half-way between Jeelong and DanShui, you’ll need most of a day to get there and back, unless you have your own car.
The Ju Ming Museum website explains various ways to get there, and there is a museum shuttle from the nearby town at 10:30am and 2pm (outside the JinShan District Office), with an additional 12:30pm shuttle on weekends. However, once you arrive in the nearby township, it might be easier to catch a taxi to the museum, then the shuttle back in the afternoon.
The grounds themselves deserve 2 hours just for wandering around the various sculptures. Most of Ju Ming’s work is huge in scale, and worth appreciating from various angles. In their outdoor setting, and against the sky and surrounding hills, even the simplest forms of his works offer lots of perspectives to consider.
The museum also houses Ju Ming’s earlier works indoors, including wood carvings that obviously can’t be displayed outside. Two other galleries feature temporary exhibitions which include work from other artists.
Arguably Ju Ming’s most famous works — which you are likely to see in replica form in many office buildings — are his TaiChi Series.
These huge block like forms manage to represent the grace and movement of various tai chi poses. In fact, when seeing these objects yourself in their outdoor settings, you can really appreciate Ju Ming’s talent in his ability to capture human form in apparently un-human materials like stone, raw wood and concrete.
The Living World Series offers a diverse range of expressions from hundreds of human-like sculptures. His heavy focus on military subjects doesn’t detract from his incredible method of capturing individual personality in a pose or a stoney facial feature.
Ju Ming started his career in wood carving and then later moved into modern sculpture under the tutelage of YuYu Yang. Ju Ming’s breakout moment, came with his solo exhibition at Taipei’s National Museum of History in 1976. A relatively unknown artist at the time, his exhibition was critically acclaimed by traditionalists and a new generation of Taiwanese art critic alike. He gained extensive media exposure and widespread attention and the success of the exhibition was quickly followed by several local awards and then exhibitions in Tokyo, Taipei, and New York.
Given that the JuMing Museum is relatively remote, it is smart planning that the complex includes several places to eat or get a coffee and snack. In fact you can purchase an entry ticket that also includes the cost of eating at their cafeteria-style restaurant just inside the museum’s entrance. There is a gift shop and library you can browse before leaving.
Two other eating options are the Big Mouth Children’s Restaurant (open on weekends) and the Museum Teahouse.
JuMing Museum Hours:
- May to October 10 am to 6pm
- November to April 10 am to 5 pm
The museum is closed on Mondays, and usually 2-3 weeks before Chinese New Year. Entry fee for adults (not including a meal) is $250. Students or seniors $220. Art major students $200. Kids get in for free.
More information about Ju Ming and his museum: