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The 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan

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Located near the small town of Wufeng (霧峰; wùfēng) in the village of Kengkou (坑口; kēngkǒu), roughly 14km south of Taichung train station, the 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan (九二一地震教育園區; jiǔèryī dìzhèn jiàoyùyuánqū) is a vivid, if sobering, introduction to the damage and destruction wrought by the massive earthquake of 1999, particularly in this part of the country. Though it has attracted a fair amount of criticism from people who say it ignores the controversial aspects of the 921 earthquake (such as substandard construction), it’s extremely informative and very moving.

The museum is centred on the former site of Guangfu Junior High School – most of the school collapsed during the quake and pictures of its mangled running track were some of the most visually shocking images in the days afterwards (it was mercifully empty at the time). The ruined school buildings form the outdoor area of the museum; on both sides of this are two futuristic exhibition halls packed with interactive displays labelled in English and Chinese; the Chelungpu Fault Gallery, which crosses the actual fault line – a clearly visible ridge created by the quake that cuts across the running track; and the Earthquake Image Gallery featuring a selection of audio-visual images of the quake and its aftermath, climaxing in hourly shows in a huge theatre.

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