Rebuilding the Tong-an Ship New Media Art Exhibition—Penghu Tour, Period 2017/04/27 to 2017/06/30, Magong Jinguitou Fortress Cultural Park
Rebuilding the Tong-an Ship New Media Art Exhibition—Penghu Tour, Period 2017/04/27 to 2017/06/30, Magong Jinguitou Fortress Cultural Park

Acting as the connective hub in the Taiwan Strait throughout history, the Penghu Islands lie contiguous to the southwestern coast of the Taiwan mainland. Historically, people traveled to the islands for political, military, and economic reasons. During the Age of Sail, people were brought in by monsoons and tides as seekers of temporary shelter or permanent settlers, who added the building blocks to the history of this region in their struggles for survival and by so doing slowly molded the islands’ rich cultural front exhibited today. Bolstering centuries of maritime activities is the concurrent development of shipbuilding technologies and navigational methods in Fujian, China. The most representative product of this time in the National Palace Museum’s collection is documentation on the Tong-an Ship.

During the mid-Qing, pirates arose in the southeastern coast of China. Containing pirate activities on the sea, therefore, became a central focus in governance policies. The imperial court selected its best military officers, dispatched navies, and marshaled civilians to control the coast. Tong-an, the city renowned in the arts of shipbuilding and navigation, ironically fathered both keepers of naval peace and free-roaming buccaneers. While pirates laid in ambush amidst the archipelago, waiting to seize the next commercial ship, the imperial navy pursued closely, eradicating and placating by turns. Between life and death, honor and infamy, each stanza in the saga of the Tong-an ship sings still from the ashes of history. Penghu was the stage, where heroes cried above the roaring sea. And Penghu became the new home for these people from Tong-an, from a long, long time ago.

The National Palace Museum has in its collection many documents on maritime history that attest to the golden age of Tong-an ship culture. The curatorial team from the museum collaborated closely with the City University of Hong Kong to retell this historical piece in the modern technological medium. Located at the Magong Jinguitou Fortress Cultural Park, this new media art exhibition was designed to support the public opening of this historical site. New technology and ancient artifacts, lying side by side, invite you to participant in different levels of contemplation.

Gallery Plan

The Side Gate

The side gate is the ship's main entrance. When on deck, visitors can experience an amazing view and hear the sounds of the sea. Audio effects, such as crashing waves and seagulls, and the scent of sea spray fill the air to produce an immersive experience.

The“Bon Voyage!”Projection Wall

Tong-an ships were originally merchant ships. However, due to their ease of operation, they were gradually adopted by the navy during the late Qianlong Era. During the Jiaqing reign, the Qing court began using large Tong-an ships to suppress pirates and maintain naval superiority. After William Pitt Amherst's arrival in China, Emperor Jiaqing rebuilt the naval base in Tianjin with Tong-an ships.

The exhibit “Bon Voyage!” uses animation elements styled from antique paintings to bring to life the historical development of the Tong-an ships.

Documentary Rebuilding the Tong-an Ships (50 min.)

The documentary Rebuilding the Tong-an Ships is an original video produced under the NPM's vision "to form new vitality and create new value for the museum.”

Starting from the NPM's "Diagram of the Tong-an Ship Ji" and related documents from the Qing archives, the project team began a journey to salvage a long forgotten history. Technologies, such as scale model building, 3D technology, and other visualization tools, restore the many facets of the Tong-an ship in the stage of East Asian oceanic glories during the 19th century.

Gold Remi Award Winner, WorldFest-Houston International Film & Video Festival

Deconstructing the Tong-an Ship

This interactive installation allows visitors to disassemble and then reassemble a 3D model of the Tong-an ship using touch and drag. Through hands-on experience, visitors quickly discover the major working parts of Chinese warships.

Cross-over Dialogue: Holographic Projection

Holographic projection, one of today's most advanced methods for projection, employs a fine silk screen or a high reflectance transparent film to allow the foreground projection to be seen more clearly against the background.

"Cross-over Dialogue" lets virtual images of Emperor Jiaqing, Commander General Li Changgeng, and Pirate Cai Qian narrate their side of the story.

The Augmented Reality Clothes Changing System

Qing officials used to wear uniforms with decorations assigned strictly according to their ranking. An official's rank is discernible by the patches sewn on his chest or back. When a visitor enters the sensor area, a decorated uniform will be randomly selected and projected over the visitor's reflection.

The Sea Chart Interactive Tabletop

The Coastal Defense Diagram of Zhejiang and Fujian Provinces and the Complete Map of Seven Coastal Provinces are the two most typical coastal defense charts during the Qing. Over 10 meters in length each, however, they are too lengthy to be fully displayed in a museum room.

The interactive table allows visitors to view works between 10 to 20 meters long. At the same time, multiple-resolution display and multi-touch control technologies allows visitors to highlight, enlarge, or obtain more information.

Space and Time See-Through

This 9-view stereographic animation explains the components of a Tong-an ship by using a 47" naked-eye 3D display. 3D glasses are not needed to see the show.

Tong-an Ship Scale Model

Widely used by civilians, government, and pirates alike, the Tong-an ships were sea vessels that emerged during the mid-Qing dynasty. They eventually became the most important force in the Qing Navy. Prior to the arrival of steamships, these ships are representative of traditional Chinese sailboats. The two important pictorial records, "Diagram of the Tong-an Ship Ji" and "Diagram of Tong-an Ship No. 1," show the biggest and most heavily armed class 1 and class 2 warship models from the Tong-an ship family. The highly detailed and colored drawings of the two Tong-an ships and the corresponding official memoranda attached serve as important evidence awaiting further exploration by Taiwanese and naval historians.

The NPM invited senior ship model craftsman Mr. Zeng Shuming to help build the Tong-an ship model.

Breaking Waves

"Breaking Waves" is a fully immersive interactive Tong-an ship simulator implementing CAVE (CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment) architecture technology. It shows visitors the main components of the Tong-an ship, and enables them to sail the ship, fire guns, and chase pirates in its interaction zone.

Adventures in NPM: The Formosa Odyssey (11:45 min.)

Here comes a puppy! A dog in a museum? Blackie, a Formosan Mountain Dog from the Qing era, mysteriously shows up in the NPM's Multimedia Display Room 210. Finding his way around the 21st century, Blackie meets Child Pillow, Jade Duck and Jade Pi-hsieh, the NPM's adventurous trio. This time Blackie will bring them back in time to a Tong-an ship and ride the raging waves across the sea to long lost 19th-century Taiwan.

Platinum Remi Award, WorldFest Houston International Film & Video Festival


Visit Info

Exhibition Period: April 27th-June 30th, 2017
Exhibition Hours: Wednesdays-Sundays, 10AM-6PM
Fare: Free Admission
Exhibition Location: Magong Jinguitou Fortress Cultural Park



From Magong Airport

By Bus:
Walk from Exit 3 from the airport lobby to the bus stop right of the terminal. Take buses to Longmen, Jianshan, Wukan, Qingluo, or Taiwu. Get off at Magong Main Station. Walk 5-10 minutes to destination.

By Taxi:
Taxis are parked outside of the exits at the airport. The fare from the airport to Magong city is about NT$250-300. For reservations, call Tel. (06)927-6742.

By Rental Car:
From the airport, follow County Road 204 towards Magong city. Turn right onto 203 County Road/ Zhonghua Road. Turn right onto Zhiping Road. Turn right on Minzu Road. Turn left onto Jieshou Road. Pass the first hotel, Guanyin Pagoda, and Duxingshi Village.

For related rental car information, please visit the Penghu Tour Website (

From Magong Port

Head north from Zhongzheng Road or Minzu Road. Turn left onto Jieshou Road. Pass Guanyin Pagoda and Duxingshi Village (15-20 min by foot, 3-5 min by car).

Nearest Parking

Guanyin Pagoda Parking Lot