Yunlin Hand Puppet Museum (雲林布袋戲館) celebrates the art form known in Chinese as budaixi (袋布戲, "hand puppet drama"). The museum is located in Huwei, a small town that grew up on the back of the sugar industry and the birthplace of puppet maestro Huang Hai-tai (黃海岱, 1901-2007).
In 1931, Huang founded the troupe now known as PiLi (霹靂). Taiwan's most commercially successful hand-puppet group, PiLi has produced wildly popular TV shows as well as full-length movies, most of the stories being inspired by Chinese wuxia (武侠, "knight errant") literature. PiLi, which is now PiLi International Multimedia, operates out of studios in Huwei. The company's name reflects its high-tech approach to the art form - their TV shows (clips can be found on YouTube) are spectacles full of acrobatic sword-wielding puppets, dry ice, pyrotechnics and sound effects. The costumes and hairstyles look like they were inspired by glam rock.
The museum is inside a very elegant renovated government building that dates from 1931. There's very little English but the scores of puppets on display are highly attractive. Once you've had your fill of puppets, take a look around the rest of the building. One wing has three jail cells, as during the colonial era the building also functioned as a police station.
The museum is the principal location for the annual International Yunlin Puppet Theater Festival (雲林國際偶戲節), first held in 1999. In recent years, Japanese, French, Israeli and Czech troupes have given performances at the festival.
Another excellent collection of puppets can be seen in the Taiwan Theater Museum.
From the back of Douliu TRA Station, take a bus to Huwei and get off at the bus station. From there it's a shortish walk to the museum.