Thursday, October 14, 2010

Taipei's Museum of Drinking Water

The Museum of Drinking Water (台北自來水博物館) is one of Taipei's smaller museums. For many visitors, the attraction is not so much the information it contains about how the city was supplied with water and how that water was made fit for human consumption as the building itself. A superb Baroque structure that dates from 1908, it's one of the finest architectural legacies of the Japanese colonial era.

Taiwan's government classified the building as a national relic in 1993, several years after the pumping station inside had ceased operation. Much of the original equipment (see below) remains in place, although it's been repainted and polished up. The arc-shaped main building (see top left), which has small bronze domes at either end, was designed by Japanese architect Nomura Ichiro (野村一郎), the man also responsible for what is now National Taiwan Museum.

The station was planned by William K. Burton (1856-1899), an Edinburgh-born, Cambridge-educated engineer who worked for the Japanese colonial authorities. He risked disease and banditry in his effort to identify sources of clean water in the hills near Taipei. The dysentery and malaria he contracted in Taiwan also certainly shortened his life. Burton also planned another superb Japanese-era edifice which, unfortunately, is not open to the public: The Old Tainan Watercourse in Shanshang.

The museum is open 09.00-18.00 Tue-Sun. During the summer, opening hours are often extended. Admission, which is NTD80/60/40, also gains you access to a small network of trails and an open-air display of pipes and other water-distribution equipment. Of the latter, the most interesting is a heavy-duty pipe bucked by the September 21 Earthquake.

The museum can be reached by rapid-transit train. From Gongguan MRT Station on the Xindian Line, take exit 4, turn left at Siyuan Street and then walk a few minutes towards Tingzhou Street. Note these directions down before you set out as within the MRT station there's no English-language sign pointing the way.


  1. Does the museum explain why no one drinks the "drinking water" in Taiwan without boiling it first?

  2. Nice history lesson!

    Here's a before-and-after photo from the top of the mountain:

  3. Boyd asked: "Does the museum explain why no one drinks the "drinking water" in Taiwan without boiling it first?"

    No it doesn't. As I understand it, the water piped into Taiwan's cities isn't too bad in terms of hygiene, but the stainless-steel water tanks you see on top of every house aren't very clean. Since learning that, I make a point of cleaning my water tanks from time to time...

  4. Where is the taiepei museum of drinking water? the address

  5. Here's the address in Chinese and English:


    No. 1, Siyuan Street, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City.