Friday, 17 April 2015


Museums are safe havens of a nations rich cultural heritage.They are bearers and custodians of our glorious past.They preserve our identity throughout generations as we continue to evolve.They tell us who we are and where we belong and that knowledge in itself is wealth.Thus those  memorabilia,artifacts,relics and mementos are priceless tokens of our past, present and the future.

Thus,aside from sight-seeing in Korea,museums are another place to get a peek into the history of this fascinating country.And today I shall take you on an e-journey of five such museums that are ranked among the top ten where you could explore different facets of their culture,tradition,history and legacy as you trace this country right from their roots. 

1. National Folk Museum of Korea: With a collection of over 98,000 artifacts and stretched in three main exhibition halls, this museum that is located on the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace is the only national museum dedicated to the history of traditional life in Korea.

The first exhibition hall of the museum includes the "History of Korean People" which houses artifacts of the everyday life of Korean people dating back right from the prehistoric times to 1910.

The second exhibition hall of the museum includes the "Korean Way Of Life" depicts on what the life of a Korean villager was in the ancient times.

The third exhibition hall of the museum titled,"Life Cycle Of The Koreans" showcases the Confucianism roots and ideology ingrained in Korean culture and the impact it has had throughout generations and to this day which is evident in their customs and traditions. Besides,the museum also has an open gallery featuring replicas of stone piles for worship, posts where villagers prayed to spirits,grinding mills,rice storage shelter,pits for kimchi pots etc.

2. National Palace Museum of Korea: The Joseon Dynasty which was the last royal dynasty of Korea and also the longest ruling Confucian dynasty that spanned five centuries which has had a lasting impact on the country's traditions and culture.In this museum you would find more than 40,000 such pieces of royal treasures that include artifacts,records,state rites,clothing,royal life, culture,paintings,music,education and architecture of the dynasty's epoch-making moments from history right before your eyes.Truly,one royal moment indeed for tourists to get transported back into this era!

3. National Museum of Korea: Ranked as the ninth most visited museum in the world, according to an article published in The Art Newspaper,April 2011-this museum houses more than 20,000 pieces of art and relics together with 13,000 works of art that are on display at any given point of time!This museum has great historic relevance to Korea because it was opened in 1945, the year when Korea gained independence from Japan.Located at Yongsan Family Park,this three-storeyed museum can be best explored one floor at a time. 

The first floor showcases the archaeological and historical gallery where you can browse through artifacts dating back to the 14th century,the earliest days of Korean civilization. 

On the second floor you can view calligraphy and paintings dating back to different eras of history,in fact some of which are even donated from individual collectors. 

Finally,on the third floor you would be enchanted to find your self amidst artistic Buddhist sculptures,arts and ceramics representing Asian culture. 

With entry free to the museum except on days when special exhibitions are held,you are sure to expect a crowd be it on a week day or week-end...that's the popularity this museum shares with visitors from far and wide.Every Saturday,the museum organizes free activities like films and concerts related to permanent and special exhibits in the museum.

4. War Memorial of Korea Museum: Located on the old site of army headquarters,this museum features stories and artifacts of Korea's 5,000 year old history, a country which has been a witness to several wars.With admission to the museum free,you can visit the War Memorial Of Korea museum that showcases precious piece of Korean history in two main exhibitions,they are indoor and outdoor. 

The indoor comprises of six halls, they are namely -

a. Memorial Hall - This hall offers tributes to all those valiant soldiers who were martyred on the battle field.

b. War Room - This hall includes Korean weaponry right from the Paleolithic age together with the armor,helmets and swords used throughout different periods of time and over the centuries.

c. Korean War of the 1950's - This hall is dedicated to the war of June 25, 1950 beginning with North Korea's surprise invasion on South Korea and all aspects of the war covered that also include the role that United Nations played during wartime and what life of Koreans were like during those years of war.

d. Combat Experience Room - In this hall you will witness the re-enactment of a Korean battle scene at night as you experience the thunderous sounds of canon explosion that are re-created through special effects,video,sound,smoke and smell of gun powder.It is a grim reminder to the visitors about the horrors of war so as to give them an understanding on what an actual war must have been like back then.

e. Expeditionary Forces Room - In this hall you will bear witness to Korea's overseas dispatches all over the world and the ROK (Republic Of Korea) Armed Forces room that depict the history and changes of South Korea's army through weapons,uniform and war tactics all through the years.

f. Defense Industry Room - In this hall you can see the latest defense machinery that protects South Korea right from gas masks to aircraft. 

The outdoor exhibition comprises of restored tanks,artillery,submarines,aircraft and vehicles which were used in World War II,the Vietnam War and the Korean War.You could have a closer look at them to view the defense assets of this brave country.

5. Leeum Samsung Museum of Art: Run by the Samsung Foundation of Culture,this museum is focused and dedicated towards preserving and exhibiting two distinct types of art. 

Interestingly the architecture of the three wings of this museum which have been inspired from Korean culture have in fact been designed by three notable  avant-garde contemporary European architects. Museum 1 has been designed by Mario Botta from Switzerland, Museum 2 has been designed by Jean Nouvel from France and the Children's Eudcation and Culture Center has been designed by Rem Koolhaas from Netherlands.

Museum 1 showcases a collection of 36 pieces of Korean art that have been designated as national treasures.They travel back to the 14th century where right from ancient daggers, earrings,crowns and ornaments to Buddhist art, paintings, sculptures and rare manuscripts have been housed in this section of the museum.Traditional ceramics and porcelain of the region such as Celadon and Buncheong are displayed here too.All in all,Korea's rich cultural past is showcased in this wing of the museum.

Museum 2  exhibits modern and contemporary art both from Korea and abroad. An array of paintings, photography, sculptures and video are displayed to showcase a sheer contrast to their traditional counterparts.These are displayed with a view to represent newer and different mediums to the ever-adapting and ambiguous styles in which contemporary art has flourished over the years.Besides,there are special exhibitions held in the museum every three months that you as a visitor can keep a watch out for.

Children's Eudcation and Culture Center organizes educational and exhibition functions such as workshops, exhibitions, lectures,forum symposium aimed at both the kids and the youth.It is essentially a free space for contemporary and future art. 

For inquiry on charges of admission to the museum,kindly visit the official website by clicking here.
So,the next time you are in could see history,culture and traditions unfolding right before your very own eyes as you hop into all or or one such museum that I just mentioned above! Surely it is an insightful experience for a visitor to learn about a new country through museums as you assimilate precious knowledge in just a few hours leaving you enriched and enlightened


Click below to read the blog posts for the Wow Korea Supporter 2015 series:

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