Taiwan – The 921 Earthquake Museum

The 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan is in Taichung City, Taiwan.

The museum is dedicated to preserving the memory of the devastating earthquake that struck Taiwan on September 21, 1999, commonly referred to as the 921 Earthquake.

The 921 Earthquake measured 7.6 on the Richter scale.

We explored the museum as part of our three nights stay and Highlights of Taichung City.

Watch my introductory video!

921 EARTHQUAKE MUSEUM OF TAIWAN - TAICHUNG CITY #travel #taiwan #taichung #earthquakes #travelguide
The 921 Earthquake Museum Taichung Taiwan

The earthquake claimed 2400 lives and many were injured and made homeless as houses and buildings all around the area collapsed.

The 921 Earthquake Museum and its exhibits are located at the site of the former Guangfu Junior High School, which collapsed during the earthquake.

What you see is a multi-story school building with its floors flat stacked and twisted on top of each other.

Earthquake Museum School Collapsed
Taichung school earthquake

The school campus – notably the running track – has also been left exactly as it was found after the quake with its ruptured undulating tarmac and the eerily scar of its raised fault line. It’s a harrowing sight.

The school, the destruction, and the fault line has been preserved exactly as it was after the quake as a museum to raise awareness about the importance of public earthquake safety preparation.

school running track the fault line has been preserved exactly as it was after the quake
The school before the earthquake in Taichung
The School Before The Earthquake

Development of earthquake proof design

To educate people about developing evacuation plans, emergency exits, and the location of safe places within buildings, during an earthquake.

So, the underlying purpose of this museum is not only to serve as a memorial to those killed and injured, but to provide earthquake response education.

To show how this terrible disaster has since influenced the development of ground-breaking earthquake-proof building design systems.

Not just in Taiwan but throughout the world.

The Taiwan Tourism Website says: “The museum is a precious teaching material for natural science”.

So, although it might sound (and look) like a dark tourism experience – and therefore a little macabre – to spend a day at an earthquake museum and a site of disaster. I highly recommend it to you for your Taichung itinerary.


Because earthquakes generate ground motion, buildings need to be able to withstand and absorb this motion, to prevent collapse or structural failure.

Therefore, earthquake-proof buildings, also known as earthquake-resistant or seismic-resistant structures, are designed and constructed to minimize damage and ensure the safety of occupants during seismic events.

Seismic-resistant structures designed to minimize damage during seismic events
Seismic-resistant structures designed to minimize damage during seismic events

The museum has an Earthquake Engineering Education building on site.

The exhibits in the engineering building clearly demonstrate how it has been possible for geologists and technicians and engineers to further develop high-tech counter measures to the shaking and rocking movement of buildings during earthquakes.

I found it very interesting.

My backpacking husband, with his background in engineering, found it all fascinating.

It made us especially keen for our anticipated visit to the top of the 101 Tower in Taipei that – when it was built in 2004 – was the world’s tallest building.

It has been built with this new ‘earthquake proof’ technology installed.

And, the Taipei 101 Tower is the only public tower in the world, that has its earthquake proof counter measures and its massive gold painted pendulum ball dampening system on full display to the public!

This enormous steel sphere is suspended from the 92nd to the 88th floor and moves back and forth to reduce the motion of the building in strong gusts or earthquakes.

The pendulum swings in the opposite direction to the sway to dissipate the vibrational energy and to stabilise the tower.

 At the Taipei 101 Tower the massive gold painted pendulum ball is on display to the public!
At the Taipei 101 Tower the massive gold painted pendulum ball is display to the public!
The Taipei 101 Tower in Taipei City
The Taipei 101 Tower in Taipei City

This technology is now incorporated into many tall buildings of the world especially those in earthquake prone zones.

The earthquake museum also includes a ‘virtual earthquake’ experience where you can get to be in a room with a 7.2 earthquake simulation.

Having experience an earthquake tremor once myself (a 5.5 on the Richter Scale) in Honduras – I found it to be very realistic!


We took the public bus (paid using our Easy Card) which took about 40 mins to go from Central Taichung to the Earthquake Museum in the Wufeng District.



Memorial Hall: The museum features a memorial hall that pays tribute to the victims of the earthquake. It includes exhibits and displays documenting the events of the earthquake and its aftermath.

Educational Exhibits: The museum provides educational exhibits that explain the geological aspects of earthquakes, the causes of the 921 Earthquake, and the lessons learned in terms of disaster preparedness and response.

Outdoor Park: The museum incorporates the original ruins of the Guangfu Junior High School, which collapsed during the earthquake. Visitors can see the preserved wreckage as a reminder of the destructive power of earthquakes.

Interactive Displays: To enhance the learning experience, the museum offers interactive displays, multimedia presentations, and simulations to help visitors understand the science behind earthquakes and the importance of earthquake-resistant construction.


Flexible Design and Materials: Engineers design earthquake-resistant buildings to be flexible and capable of absorbing and dissipating seismic energy.

Materials with high ductility and flexibility, such as steel and reinforced concrete, are commonly used in construction.

Base Isolation: Base isolation is a technique where the building’s foundation is decoupled from the ground motion using isolators. These isolators absorb and dissipate seismic energy, reducing the forces transmitted to the structure.

Common base isolation methods include using rubber bearings, sliding bearings, or other isolating devices.

Reinforced Concrete: Reinforced concrete structures are designed with steel reinforcing bars (rebar) to enhance the building’s strength and ductility.

Columns and beams are reinforced to improve their ability to withstand lateral forces and deform without collapsing.

Shear Walls and Bracing: Shear walls and bracing systems are employed to provide lateral stability to buildings. These elements help distribute seismic forces and prevent excessive swaying or tilting during an earthquake.

Bracing systems may include diagonal braces or shear walls made of reinforced concrete or steel.

Damping Systems: Damping systems are used to dissipate seismic energy and reduce building oscillations. This can include tuned mass dampers, viscous dampers, or other devices designed to absorb and dissipate energy.

Regular Inspection and Maintenance: Regular inspections and maintenance are crucial for ensuring the ongoing earthquake resistance of buildings.

Engineers and building owners should regularly assess the structural integrity of a building and address any issues promptly.

Seismic Building Codes: Many regions prone to earthquakes have established seismic building codes that mandate specific design and construction practices to enhance earthquake resistance.

These codes are developed based on geological data, historical earthquake records, and engineering research.

Advanced Simulation and Modelling: Engineers use advanced simulation and modelling tools to analyse how a building will respond to seismic forces. This helps in optimizing designs for earthquake resistance.


The 921 Earthquake Museum in Taichung Taiwan serves as an important reminder of the impact of natural disasters and the need for communities to be prepared for seismic events.

I would give our visit to the 921 Earthquake Museum top billing as a Highlight of our Taichung Itinerary.

I would also allow a good portion of your day to fully explore it all.

Would you like to experience this museum in Taichung?

Would you be fascinated to see the engineering exhibits?

Let me know in the comments!

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