Initiated in the spring of 1954, Provincial Tainan Social Education Hall, the predecessor to National Tainan Living Art Center, was launched by Taiwan Provincial Government pursuant to “Social Education Act” in order to enrich people’s life, guide social values, advance the development of society, and cultivate reading culture. Seven regions in southern Taiwan, including Chiayi County, Chiayi City, Tainan County, Tainan City, Kaohsiung County, Pingtung County, and Penghu County, have been designated as areas under the guidance of Provincial Tainan Social Education Hall, which had become the subordinate institution of the Education Department in Taiwan Provincial Government. The preparatory committee, organized in early June, 1954, was led by the Chairperson, Deng Chuang-kai, the then Head of the Education Department with the mission of planning and establishing premises for the institution. On June 11th, 1955, “Provincial Tainan Social Education Hall” was officially founded in accordance with government act while Mr. Tong Jia-ju was appointed as the first Director succeeded by Wu Tseng-wen, Shu Dao-hong, Cheng Ching-yuan, Tsai Shian-ko, Yang Kuo-ping, Lin An-hun, and Chen Bo-chin.
The old premises of the Center, located at the intersection of Mingquan Road and Gongyuan Road in the Central District of Tainan City, were the historical heritage, “Wu Garden” from Qing Dynasty and the former “Tainan Public Hall” during Japanese-rule era. The site was 0.6 hectare and situated in the bustling downtown with convenient transportation network and talented people. However, the buildings were timeworn although being refurbished during several decades. Other problems, such as limited space and lack of parking areas, all led to the plan carried out by the Education Department of Taiwan Provincial Government to establish new premises for the Center. On March 15th, 1989, it was formulated that a new 2.52-hectare site would be relocated in the 5th Redevelopment Zone in Tainan City. The 1st phase of the construction (Administration Hall) started to be built after groundbreaking ceremony in 1992 and was completed in February, 1994. In July, 1994, personnel started to move into the new building while on October 29th, the official inauguration ceremony took place. Construction works on the 2nd phase (Performance and Exhibition Hall) began in January, 1995 and were completed in December, 1998. After May 15th, 1997, the date when Culture and Education Division of Taiwan Provincial Government was formed, the Center then became its subordinate institution. Since July 1st 1999, the Center has become a national-level institution directly subordinate to Ministry of Education through restructuring after provincial government transferring its functions. Since September 2004, Kinmen County has also been included into the regions under the guidance of the Center.
In recent year, in order to facilitate the integration of the operational systems between libraries and museums so as to obtain efficient management of relevant resources, the Executive Yuan has approved the adjustment of functions exercised by 5 types of cultural and educational institutions subordinate to the Ministry of Education and the Council for Cultural Affairs, including “public libraries”, “museums”, “social education centers and exhibition spaces”, “affiliated schools and groups”, and “juridical person and its affiliated groups” on August 8th, 2007. On September 19th, 2007, the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission of Executive Yuan has stipulated the “Directions for Cultural and Educational Institutions Including Libraries and Museums to Manage the Change of Competent Authority and Institutionalization”, within which, 4 social education centers in Hsin-chu, Chang-hua, Tainan, and Taitung respectively have changed their competent authority from the Ministry of Education to the Council for Cultural Affairs. In accordance with the preceding regulations, the Council for Cultural Affairs has drafted organizational regulations governing “National Living Art Center”, operational rules for 4 national living art centers located in Hsin-chu, Chang-hua, Tainan, and Taitung, as well as tables of organization on December 12th 2007 and filed a request for the Executive Yuan to review. The Research, Development and Evaluation Commission moderated a meeting and invited relevant agencies to participate on December 18th, 2007 while on January 23rd, 2008, the Executive Yuan has approved the request. National Tainan Living Art Center has been officially inaugurated on March 6th, 2008.
Synchronized with the organizational restructuring implemented by the Executive Yuan on May 20th, 2012, the Council for Cultural Affairs was reorganized into the Ministry of Culture. “Organizational Regulations Governing National Living Art Center”, “Operational Rules for National Living Art Center”, and the tables of organization for four Living Art Centers were mandated by the Executive Yuan that the Center shall be subordinate to National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts by the stipulation issued on May 18th, 2012 and the approval on May 25th, 2012. The Center is designated as a level-four institution with the missions to promote living art within 7 regions of southern Taiwan, organize cultural and art performances and exhibitions, foster cultural and creative industry, as well as enhance community engagement.