Museums and Galleries

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korea essentials No. 6

Museums & Galleries

Displaying Korea’s Past and Future

korea essentials No. 6

Museums & Galleries Displaying Korea’s Past and Future Copyright © 2011 by The Korea Foundation All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means without the written permission of the publisher. First Published in 2011 by Seoul Selection B1 Korean Publishers Association Bldg., 105-2 Sagan-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-190, Korea Phone: (82-2) 734-9567 Fax: (82-2) 734-9562 Email: Website: ISBN: 978-89-91913-86-8 ISBN: 978-89-91913-70-7

04080 (set)

Printed in the Republic of Korea

Museums & Galleries Displaying Korea’s Past and Future

Contents Introduction 6 Chapter 1

National & Public Museums 10 National Museum of Korea / National Folk Museum of Korea / National Palace Museum of Korea / Seoul Museum of History / War Memorial of Korea Chapter 2

Major Art Museums & Galleries 36 National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea / Seoul Museum of Art / Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art / Whanki Museum / Total Museum of Contemporary Art / Artsonje Museum & Artsonje Center Gallery Hyundai /Hakgojae Gallery / Gana Art Center / Kukje Gallery / PKM Gallery Chapter 3

Specialized Museums 78 Traditional Culture: The Museum of Korean Embroidery / Gahoe Museum / Onggi Folk Museum / Museum of Korea Straw and Plants Handicraft Specific Themes: World Jewellery Museum / Museum of Agriculture / Lock Museum / Dongducheon Museum of Chicken Arts / Owl Art & Craft Museum / Mokin Museum Food: Pulmuone Kimchi Field Museum / Tteok Museum History: Seodaemun Prison History Hall Chapter 4

Regional Museums 98 Gyeongju National Museum / Gwangju National Museum / Jeonju National Museum / Buyeo National Museum / Daegu National Museum / Cheongju National Museum / Gimhae National Museum / Chuncheon National Museum / Jinju National Museum / Gongju National Museum / Jeju National Museum


Information 122

Delving Deeper • History of Seoul 30 • History of Modern Art in Korea 60 • Galleries in the Bukchon Area 74 • Insa-dong Neighborhood 76 • National Heritage 96 • Gyeongju: Korea’s Leading Historic Capital 102 • Daedong Yeojido 118



Korea is currently home to around 300 registered museums and a large number of private galleries, ranging from regular attendees at the world’s major art fairs to small hideaways in old neighborhoods. When the Jesil Bangmulgwan (“Imperial Household Museum”) opened its doors to the Korean public on November 1, 1909, the move appeared to be part of the Greater Korean Empire (18971910)’s efforts at comprehensive modernization in the face of increasing harassment from foreign powers. Unfortunately, Korea was formally annexed by Japan the following year, and the development of its “modern” museum and gallery culture continued for the next three and a half decades under Japan’s colonial rule. It was during this time that many Western forms of art reached Korea via Japan, while archaeological research into some of the country’s most important historical sites took off in earnest. When Korea emerged, in 1953, economically and culturally battered from 35 years of colonial domination and a devastating civil war, it dutifully began rebuilding a network of national and regional museums. With increasing prosperity over subsequent decades came growth in the country’s art market, increased cultural and academic exchange with the outside world, corporate and other specialized museums, and a handful of hugely wealthy cultural foundations run by the country’s powerful conglomerates. Korea’s portfolio of impressive public and privately owned museums and galleries began catching up with its miraculous economic success, supported by a highly educated population with an increasingly sound appreciation for Korean and foreign culture.


This book begins with an introduction to five of Seoul’s major national and public museums which offer a comprehensive overview of Korea’s long and varied history. Chapter 2 presents a selection of Korea’s major public and private art museums, as well as some of its leading private art galleries, ranging from the large National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea, to recently established but internationally successful newcomers such as PKM Gallery. Specialized museums are the subject of Chapter 3, which shines a spotlight on some of the country’s most unusual collections of objects. Chapter 4 introduces the 11 regional national museums in the Korea’s national museum network, dedicated to displaying and researching artifacts brought up from the among the many layers of the Korean Peninsula’s history. Space has not allowed the inclusion of all of Korea’s many museums and galleries in this book, but it is hoped the reader will be left with an overview of the museum and gallery scene in this country at the beginning of the 21st century, and with a desire to look into this large and rewarding area of the Korean culture.


Chapter One



oday’s Korea is built on the foundations of what is commonly claimed to be 5,000 years of history. Though the peninsula’s turbulent past has ensured that significant quantities of historic relics, documents, sites, and artworks have been lost forever, enough still remain to fill the 38,000 square meter exhibition halls of the National Museum of Korea. And though this institution may be the jewel in the country’s museum crown, it is also the big tip of a very big iceberg of museums displaying relics from anywhere between the shadows of prehistory and the neon-lit, ordered confusion of 20th century industrialization. This chapter, introduces five of Seoul’s principal national and public museums, beginning with the mighty National Museum of Korea. All are located in Seoul. The National Folk Museum of Korea is packed with artifacts competing to tell the long and multifaceted story of change and continuity that constitutes the history of the Korean people and their everyday lives over millennia of hunting, gathering, farming, being born, getting married, having children, dying, and plenty more.

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The National Palace Museum of Korea houses thousands of artifacts from the long Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897) and the Greater Korean Empire (1897-1910), giving a comprehensive view of the rich cultural and political environment of the royal court, and its efforts to rule itself and the country in accordance with NeoConfucian principles (see p27 for an explanation of overlapping dates regarding the Joseon Dynasty and the Greater Korea Empire). Seoul Museum of History comes to grips with the past and present of one of the world’s largest megacities, tracing its dizzy path from the days of earthen fortresses to a medieval walled city, war-torn wasteland, mushrooming capital of a developing nation, and beyond. The War Memorial of Korea remembers the repeated efforts and sacrifices made by Korea to defend itself over the past 5,000 years, most notably and tragically during the war of 19501953. With its solemn architecture, seemingly endless lists of names of the fallen, and sobering displays, the memorial endeavors to ensure that the horror of war and the value of peace are never forgotten.

The Bosingak bell at the National Museum of Korea

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National Museum of Korea The National Museum of Korea is the undisputed jewel in the country’s museum crown. Located in Yongsan, at the geographical heart of Seoul, the huge museum is outstanding in almost every way: its sheer size, the number and importance of its exhibits, its groundbreaking design, and its convoluted history, to name just a few. Its opening in 2005 marked the first time since Korean independence in 1945 that the National Museum of Korea was able to settle permanently in a custom-made, Korean-designed and built location big enough to do justice to its enormous and diverse collection. The Yongsan area, where the National Museum of Korea is located, has long been a source of indignation for Koreans as the site where foreign powers, including China, Japan, and most recently the United States, have maintained military bases. Yongsan is centrally located within Seoul, near the Hangang River and Mt. Namsan. When the Korean Peninsula is unified, the National Museum of Korea at Yongsan has the potential to serve as a true cultural center for all Koreans. The list of highlights seems almost as long as the 400-meter museum that contains them: 67 designated National Treasures, 114 Treasures, and four Important Folklore Materials that include paintings, ceramics, pagodas, bells, ancient documents, crowns, sculptures, figurines, and much more.

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Museum High lights

National Treasures 1. Ten-story pagoda from Gyeongcheon Temple site (14th c., National Treasure No. 86) A 10-story marble pagoda dating from 1348 and depicting 16 scenes from Buddhist ceremonies. 2. Pensive bodhisattva (7th c., National Treasure No. 83) An immaculately cast artistic and technical triumph that has a very powerful presence as it occupies a room all of its own. 3. Horse rider-shaped vessels (5th-6th c., National Treasure No. 91) Two similar pieces of pottery, found in the Silla Dynasty Geumryeong-chong Tomb, thought to have been specially manufactured for rituals.




Displaying the History of Korea Compared to those of other Asian countries, Korea’s culture and history have in the past suffered from a low global profile. Korea’s history was frequently derailed due to invasions by neighboring countries. Many past Korean rulers and governments also proved passive when it came to their own national culture, although this trend has changed much in recent times. Korea’s culture was extensively damaged during the Japanese colonial period (19101945) when many artifacts were removed from the country. Even after liberation, the Korean War (1950-1953) soon exposed Korea’s cultural heritage to more physical damage and irrecoverable loss. The National Museum of Korea was not permanently established in Seoul at any time after liberation until 1997. Its collections were

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History of Seoul The fertile Hangang River valley where Seoul is located has been inhabited since the Stone Age, with evidence of human settlements as far back as 3,000 to 7,000 years ago found in southern Seoul’s Amsa-dong. Seoul was a capital of the southwestern kingdom of Baekje in the early Three Kingdoms period (57BC-AD668) before an altercation with the northern kingdom of Goguryeo put an end to this. The city acquired the importance that it maintains today with the beginning of the Joseon era (see “The Joseon Dynasty,” p27). It acquired palaces, was ringed by a fortress wall with eight gates—four big and four small—and was configured according to the principles of pungsu jiri (feng shui), which form the basis of most Korean traditional architecture and urban planning. Seoul’s population remained close to 200,000 for a long time.

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Foreigners began to appear in earnest in the capital in the late 19th century, when Joseon began to loosen the rigid isolationist policies to which it had long adhered. Efforts at modernization began, and some Western-style architecture appeared. This process was accelerated under the period of Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945), a time that also saw several historic symbols of Korean sovereignty, including Gyeongbokgung Palace, heavily damaged or destroyed. Seoul was also the scene of pro-independence efforts and their suppression (see “Seodaemun Prison History Hall,” p94). Three years after independence, two states were established on the Korean Peninsula, with Seoul becoming the capital of the Republic of Korea. Two years later, these states were at war. Seoul changed hands four times during the three-year conflict, emerging heavily damaged and with a large population of refugees.


2 3

1. An area of Seoul earmarked for “new town” redevelopment 2. The Japanese Government-General Building, built on the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace during the Japanese colonial period, was demolished in 1995. 3. Prehistoric settlement site in Seoul’s Amsa-dong


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Chapter Two



he earliest form of an art gallery in Korea was founded during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). At the time, paintings were not exhibited and sold at specific venues. Rather, whenever an aristocrat or affluent family sought to acquire a painting, it invited and paid an artist to stay at its house while the painting was produced.

Early Days: 1910~1930s In the early 20th century, newspapers began to stimulate interest in art, especially among intellectuals. Gogeumseohwagwan, the first gallery in Korea, was opened in 1913 by painter and calligrapher Gim Kyu-jin (1868-1933; pen name Haegang). Meanwhile newly formed art organizations began to emerge in Korea’s Western art circles in the 1930s as growing numbers of Koreans returned home after studying Western painting abroad; the country’s Oriental artists also launched painting and calligraphy associations. The early history of Korean art museums is indistinct from that of

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non-art museums: historical artworks were displayed at the Imperial Household Museum from the beginning, then at a variety of other museums before and during the Japanese colonial period. Perhaps the country’s first private art museum was Bohwagak (today’s Gansong Art Museum), founded by collector Jeon Hyeongpil in 1938. Jeon’s aim was apparently to acquire as many items of Korean heritage as possible in order to prevent them from being taken to Japan. In 1933, Seokjojeon, the large stone building in the grounds of Deoksugung Palace that is today part of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, began functioning as an art museum exhibiting mainly Japanese works. In 1938, it was joined by a newly built adjacent building that housed Korean historical artworks: this was Korea’s first purpose-built art museum.

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National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea Established as part of efforts from the 1960s to reconstruct national identity, the National Museum of Contemporary Art was conceived in order to “purchase, preserve, and exhibit modern artworks and manage matters relating to international exchange.� The trend of

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Westernization that was accompanying Korean modernization provoked a sense of crisis about the loss of Korean tradition and national identity. The Korean art world, meanwhile, was keenly aware of the lack of a contemporary art museum in the country, with leading figures highlighting the need for such an institution, not only to display works but also to collect and conduct research on various types of modern art in order to ensure their preservation. The National Museum of Contemporary Art first opened in the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace on October 20, 1969. The museum began collecting works created by Korean artists between 1900 and 1970. In 1973, it was relocated to Deoksugung Palace’s Seokjojeon building, formerly occupied by the National Museum of Korea. Over the next 12 years, the museum collected almost 2,000 more works, mostly as donations or purchases. But the limitations of Seokjojeon as a museum for showcasing the diversity and wide scope of modern art gradually became clear. At the same time, there was a growing desire in the country to acquire a global-standard contemporary art museum in time for the 1986 Seoul Asian Games and 1988 Seoul Olympics. Korean-American architect Kim Tae-soo’s design, which echoed traditional Korean forms such as a fortress wall and beacon tower and aimed to strike a harmony with the mountain behind it, was selected for the new museum building. The complex in Gwacheon, just to the south of Seoul, remains the headquarters of the National Museum of Contemporary Art today.

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History of Modern Art in Korea As in many other areas of culture, modernity in art came to Korea during difficult times. Though the Greater Korean Empire was proclaimed in 1897 and various types of modernization took place, these were insufficient to stop Korea from being annexed by Japan in 1910. It was over the next 35 years, until Japan’s World War II defeat in 1945, that art in Korea began to follow many Western trends and widely accepted categorizations after centuries of dominance by the older traditions and culture norms of East Asia and the Chinese cultural sphere. Though Korea’s first gallery, The Peonies of HwaryeongGogeumseohwagwan, opened in 1913, it jeon Shrine, Nah Hye-suk, apparently focused predominantly on selling 1935, private collection. the works of its owner and closed down in 1920 due to lack of demand. Misul, the word currently used most frequently to equate to “art” or “fine arts” in English (the word yesul is also common, but tends to refer to “the arts” in a broader sense), first appeared during the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945), along with the distinction between dongyanghwa (Eastern painting), and seoyanghwa (Western painting). In 1922, painting and artists received a boost with the establishment of the Joseon Art Exhibition (Joseon Misul Jeollamhoe), which received competitive entries divided according to the new Eastern and Western categories. Some artists set Eastern painting on a path of evolution away from age-old traditional subjects such as natural landscapes and detachment, if not escape, from the mundane world, to the depiction of real, everyday scenes. Maintenance of ink and wash style meant that the paintings could still be regarded as “Eastern.” As with other fields of traditional art, including music, such experimentation continues today and is constantly accompanied by the question of what constitutes or compromises “Korean identity.” From the end of the 1920s, Western painting began becoming the dominant form of art in Korea and it remains so today. The rise of this genre was largely due to the increasing number of students returning from art schools in Japan.

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Ko Hei-tong (1886-1965) was the first Korean to study Western painting, entering the Department of Western Painting at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts in 1909. Ko was followed two years later by Kim Gwan-ho (1890-1959), the first Korean Western-style painter to hold a solo exhibition. Not only the practice of Western painting but its theory and philosophy continue to dominate in Korea today. There are many successful dongyanghwa artists, but, as in academic disciplines, a successful fusion of “pre-modern” Korean philosophy and theory with their “modern” Western counterparts has left the latter as the overwhelming providers of cultural yardsticks for now. The genre of sculpture also followed a similar trajectory away from Korean tradition, diverted by Western influence introduced via Korean students such as Kim Bok-jin (1901-1940) on their return from Japan. Crafts endured a rocky transition from the end of the Joseon dynasty, with objects that had previously combined function with artistry being sidelined by modern and mechanized manufacturing techniques that threw the identities of traditional craftsmen into chaos. Government efforts to preserve traditional techniques, however, combined with newly found appreciation for Korean crafts, mean that there are plenty of skilled artists and government-recognized craftspeople now working in this area.

Boy, Kim Bok-jin, 1940, lost in Korean War (left), Gyesan-dong Cathedral, Lee In-seong, 1930, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea (right)

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Works by Lee Sea-hyun © Lee Sea-hyun, courtesy Hakgojae Gallery

heon, Min Jeong-gi, Sin Yeong-bok, Sin Hak-cheol, O Yun, Lee Jong-gu, and Lee Cheol-su. Hakgojae Gallery is now located in Seoul’s Sogyeok-dong nieghborhood, opposite the eastern wall of the Gyeongbokgung Palace. It occupies two separate buildings: one that combines Western style and a traditional Korean hanok roof, and a red brick tower behind it. Both of the buildings were designed by Korean architect Choi Wook. Leading artists represented more recently at Hakgojae Gallery include Lee Yong-baek, whose work was exhibited at Venice Biennale 2011; landscape artist Lee Sea-hyun; and video artist LEE Lee-nam. Hakgojae has also featured the works of photographers such as Atta Kim and Lee Myoung-ho, as well as exhibiting the work of foreign artists including Roman Opalka, Giuseppe Penone, Günther Uecker, Jean-Pierre Raynaud, and Bernard Friez. Since its establishment in 1992, Hakgojae Publishing has mainly published books on the humanities and culture, with the goal of creating new classics for the current era. Some of the notable works

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it has published include Complete Works of Choi Sunu, a collection of writings by Choi Sunu (pen name Hyegok), a former director of the National Museum of Korea; Leaning Against the Entasis Pillar of the Amitayus Hall, Traditional Painting of Korea by Lee Dongju, and Think about Joseon by Muneyoshi Yanagi. More recent works include Korean translations of Renaissance by Walter Peter and The Life of Forms in Art by Henri Focillon.

Gana Art Center Gana Art began as “Gana Hwarang,” opened by current chairman Lee Ho-jae in Insa-dong in 1983, when he was only 29 years old. Its name, “Gana,” is made up of the first two syllables of the Korean alphabet, communicating a message of starting with the basics and

snm1a-107h_C, Bae Bien-U, 2007 © Bae Bien-U, courtesy Gana Art Center

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building draws attention thanks to the sculpture of a woman walking on its roof. This sculpture was part of a solo exhibition held by American artist Jonathan Borofsky in 1995; so strong was the reaction that it became a permanent fixture. Kukje Gallery is sufficiently active on the world stage to deserve the description “international” (the meaning of the Korean word kukje). A look at the list of foreign artists whose exhibitions it has hosted—among them Helen Frankenthaler, Frank Stella, Anthony Caro, Cy Twombly, Anselm Kiefer, Eva Hesse, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joan Mitchell, Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, Candida Hofer, Bill Viola, and Anish Kapoor—is enough to confirm that it aims to rank among the leading galleries of its age. Meanwhile, Kukje has also contributed to increasing recognition of Korean art in the international art world. It is regularly invited to and introduces the works of Korean artists at international art fairs such as Art Basel, eligibility for which involves passing rigorous judging processes. Through such events, Kukje has maintained close

Vera, dancer. 3, Julian Opie, 2007, © Julian Opie, courtesy Kukje Gallery (left) JUN 20, Koo Bohnchang, 2010, © Koo Bohnchang, courtesy Kukje Gallery (right)

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ties with overseas art museum officials, curators, and critics, helping to secure exhibitions at overseas art museums and appearances at various biennales for Korean artists. Artists evolving in conjunction with Kukje Gallery include Jung Yeondoo, Oh Hein-kuhn, Rhee Ki Bong, Cho Duck Hyun, Haegue Yang, GIMHONGSOK, Shin Meekyoung, and Hong Seung-hye. Lee Hyun-sook, founder and CEO of Kukje Gallery, chaired the Galleries Association of Korea from 2006 until 2008, spearheading improvements in the quality of the Korea International Art Fair event, which is managed by the association. Lee’s three children are currently following their mother into the family business. Eldest daughter Tina Kim runs the Tina Kim Fine Art Gallery in Chelsea, New York, playing the role of an overseas foothold for Kukje. Second daughter Suzie assists her mother as director of Kukje Ga l l e r y i n S e o u l , w h i l e s o n C h a r l e s K i m manages “The Restaurant,” which is also operated by Kukje Gallery.


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Chapter Three



orea’s several hundred museums and art galleries include national, public, private, and university-run establishments. Many of these are based on specialized themes, which range from chicken art to Christianity, locks to lamps, cinema to celadon, and embroidery to irrigation. The following constitutes a brief history of Korea’s specialized museums. In 1948, Kim Yang-sun opened the Korean Christian Museum, the country’s first private museum, and managed it for two years until the outbreak of the Korean War. The museum was established on privately owned land within the compound of the Shinto Palace on Mt. Namsan, built during Japan’s colonial rule of Korea. After the evacuated government returned to Seoul following the Korean War, Kim donated about 7,000 items in his collection, including two National Treasures and two Treasures, to his alma mater, Soongsil University, which established the Korean Christian Museum. The Handok Medico-Pharma Museum, meanwhile, was

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established by Kim Shin-kwon, founder of the Handok Pharmaceutical Co., as the first corporate museum in Korea. Kim began to collect materials after a visit to the Apoteke Museum in Heidelberg, Germany. He opened the museum in Seoul in 1964, naming it Handok Pharmaceutical History Hall. On display at the museum are about 7,000 items related to the medical and pharmaceutical history of the Orient and West, including six Treasures designated by the government, as well as ancient medical books, medical instruments, and herbal medicine ingredients. The museum is now named Handok Medico-Pharma Museum and located in Eumseong-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do province.

Beginnings: 1970s In 1969, Huh Dong-hwa and his wife opened the Museum of Korean Embroidery on the second floor of the Eulji Hospital’s dental office on Euljiro 3-ga Road. Fascinated by the beauty of traditional embroidery, the couple had been collecting pieces since

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Straw egg holders, Bokjori (straw ladles), Broom, A straw effigy for exorcism

Straw was put to a huge range of uses in Korean traditional society, from roof thatch to footwear, and from rope to bags and sacks. This museum gives a sense of the intimate relationship between humans and straw that reaches as far back as the roots of agriculture itself.

Specific Themes World Jewellery Museum Museum director Lee Kang-won spent 30 years moving around the world as the wife of a diplomat, a trajectory that brought her into contact with Africa in 1978. It was here that Lee caught what she describes as the “collector’s virus” and began acquiring jewelry from around the world. In 2004, this resulted in the opening of the World Jewellery Museum in the northern Seoul area of Bukchon. This museum, while being devoted to jewelry, also uses it as a means to an even wider end: cultivating

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understanding of the history, art, culture, and other aspects of countries, peoples, and tribes across the world. The collection includes jewelry from Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America and is divided into nine galleries containing genres such as amber, bracelets and anklets, necklaces, El Dorado and emeralds, rings, headdresses and earrings, Ethiopian crosses, beads, and Art Nouveau and Art Deco. The variety and standard of ethnic jewelry on display here makes the World Jewellery Museum unusual and valuable even on an international level.

Processional crosses from Ethiopia, 18-19th c.

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Dongducheon Museum of Chicken Arts This museum is dedicated, as its name suggests, to works of art and folk objects featuring depictions of chickens. After opening in Seoul in 2006, it relocated to the northern city of Dongducheon in December 2011. The museum features an eclectic collection of depictions of chickens that refuses to distinguish between time, place or creator and aims to become a place of learning and feeling. The Museum of Chicken Arts offers both a permanent exhibition and temporary special exhibitions—particular highlights of the former are Korean traditional minhwa pictures featuring chickens and roosters in symbolic fashion, as well as chicken “kkokdu,” carved and brightly painted wooden figures that were attached to the top of wooden funeral biers, or “sangyeo.”

Wooden chicken sculptures

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Owl wall painting

Owl Art & Craft Museum Chickens are not the only birds to enjoy an entire museum devoted to them. Boasting a laid-back, café-like atmosphere, the Owl Art & Craft Museum houses more than 2,000 owl-themed items of art, craft, antiques and other items from over 70 countries around the world—the product of more than 30 years of collecting. Visitors are treated to a cup of tea, while cold drinks are offered to children. Owl lovers may be further reassured by the fact that there are no stuffed owls in the museum.

Mokin Museum Literally meaning “wooden person,” mokin gives its name to both a museum and a gallery on the same plot of land. The complex was opened in 2006 and consists of a collection of around 8,000 carved wooden sculptures from around the world. Items on display include masks, walking sticks, and musical instruments, but the beautiful and eccentric wooden figurines steal the show. A mokin for bier decoration

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National Heritage Who designates ‘National Treasures?’ The Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea (CHA) is the government body charged with keeping the nation’s cultural traditions intact and enhancing its cultural life in general by preserving and promoting items of Korean heritage. The CHA’s various tasks include granting permission for various excavations and alterations; supporting conservation and management of cultural heritage; managing royal palaces and other historic sites; globalizing Korea’s cultural heritage (including promoting registration on various UNESCO lists) and conducting exchange with North Korea; and researching national heritage and training experts. One of the CHA’s key functions, however, is the designation and registration of cultural heritage. Items of cultural heritage are designated both at the state level and at the city/provincial level. The CHA provides assistance with heritage designated at both levels. Categories at the national level include National Treasures, Treasures, Historic Sites, Scenic Sites, Natural Monuments (animals, plants, minerals, caves, geological features, biological products and special natural phenomena), Important Intangible Cultural Heritage (drama, music, dance, craftsmanship, etc.), and Important Folklore Materials (clothing, implements and houses used for daily life and business, transportation and communications, entertainment and social life, and religious or annual events).

Cheomseongdae Observatory, National Treasure No. 31 (left) Celadon plum vase with inlaid plum, bamboo, and birds (right)

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Choosing items of heritage As of August 2011, Korea had designated 313 National Treasures, 1,684 Treasures, 491 Historic Sites, 80 Scenic Sites, 419 Natural Monuments, 114 items of Important Intangible Cultural Heritage, and 262 Important Folklore Materials. Designation is officially done by the administrator of the CHA following deliberation by the Cultural Heritage Committee. The committee contains subcommittees that specialize in areas such as architecture, historic sites, intangible heritage, natural monuments, burial culture, modern cultural heritage, and others. It is up to the experts on the committee to decide whether items are of significant enough value to be designated. National Treasure No. 1 is Sungnyemun, also known as Namdaemun, the southern of the four large gates in Seoul’s ancient fortress wall. Sungnyemun was originally built in 1398, the fourth year of Taejo, the first monarch of the Joseon dynasty. Its upper wooden structure was severely damaged by an arson attack in early 2008 and is now being rebuilt by some of Korea’s leading traditional craftspeople. National Treasure No. 1, Sungnyemun Gate, is currently being restored.

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Fortunately, the central government in Korea assumes responsibility for the entire budget of the national museum system, in recognition of its unique significance. This enables the museums and their staff to fully concentrate on their primary endeavors: those related to the organization of exhibitions and the conducting of research.

Chuncheon National Museum Gongju National Museum

National Museum of Korea Cheongju National Museum

Buyeo National Museum

Daegu National Museum

Jeonju National Museum

Gyeongju National Museum Gimhae National Museum

Naju National Museum (under construction; due to open 2013)

Jinju National Museum Gwangju National Museum Jeju National Museum

Gyeongju National Museum The kingdom of Silla (57BC-935AD), started off as a relatively small state in the southeastern corner of the Korean Peninsula, as one of three kingdoms, and ended up occupying an extensive portion of the land comprised by today’s North and South Korea. After formally adopting Buddhism as its state religion in 527, Silla developed a devout Buddhist culture. The city of Gyeongju, currently located in Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, was the capital of

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Silla and boasts one of the richest historical heritages of any city in Korea, including abundant Buddhist art and treasure-filled royal tumuli. In reflection of this, it was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2000. Gyeongju National Museum, founded in 1945 as the Gyeongju branch of the National Museum, contains some 3,000 artifacts, which are displayed in three exhibitions halls: archaeology, art, and Anapji (the name of an artificial pond in a Silla royal palace complex that yielded a large number of relics upon excavation in the 1970s and 1980s). In addition to the three indoor exhibition halls, an outdoor exhibition space contains a number of stone works such as Buddhist statues, pagodas, and lanterns. It also contains the spectacular bronze Divine Bell of King Seongdeok. Though items in the museum’s collection date from a range of eras that stretches from prehistory to modernity, the majority of its most impressive exhibits date from the Silla era itself. Locally excavated items from the prehistoric and Proto-Three Kingdoms era (roughly the 1-3rd c.), gold crowns and other ornaments from royal tombs, highly ornate ridge-end tiles from Buddhist temple roofs, Buddhist art, ancient inscriptions, and a variety of fascinating everyday items selected from among the artifacts excavated from Anapji Pond are just a few of the items displaying here. Anapji Pond

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National Museums National Museum of Korea Hours 9am to 6pm (Tue, Thu, Fri), 9am to 9pm (Wed, Sat), 9am to 7pm (Sun, holidays) Admission Free; special exhibitions ticketed separately. Address 168-6 Yongsan-dong 6-ga (137 Seobinggo-ro), Yongsan-gu, Seoul Getting There Ichon Station, Line 4 or Jungang Line, Exit 2 Tel 02) 2077-9000 Website

National Folk Museum of Korea Hours 9am to 6pm (Mar to Oct), 9am to 5pm (Nov to Feb), 9am to 7pm (Sat, Sun & holidays). Ticket sales stop one hour to closing. Closed Tuesdays. Admission Free; however, the museum plans to introduce ticketing at a yet-to-be decided date. Address 1-1 Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul Getting There Gyeongbokgung Station, Line 3, Exit 5; Anguk Station, Line 3, Exit 1 Tel 02) 3704-3114 Website

National Palace Museum of Korea Hours 9am to 6pm (weekdays), 9am to 7pm (weekend). Ticket sales stop one hour prior to closing. Closed Mondays. Admission Free; however, the museum plans to introduce ticketing at a yet-to-be decided date. Address 1-57 Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul Getting There Gyeongbokgung Station, Line 3, Exit 5; Gwanghwamun Station, Line 5, Exit 1 Tel 02) 3701-7500 Website

Seoul Museum of History Hours 9am to 9pm (weekdays), 9am to 7pm (weekdays & holidays, Mar to Oct),

Appendix 123

9am to 6pm (Nov to Feb). Closed Mondays. Admission Free; special exhibitions ticketed separately. Address 2-1 Sinmunno 2-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul Getting There Gwanghwamun Station, Line 5, Exit 7 Tel 02) 724-0274 Website

War Memorial of Korea Hours 9am to 6pm. Ticket sales stop one hour prior to closing. Closed Mondays. Admission Free Address 8 Yongsan-dong 1-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul Getting There Samgakji Station, Line 4 or 6, Exit 12 Tel 02) 709-3139 Website

Major Art Museums & Galleries National Museum of Contemporary Art Gwacheon Main Building Hours 10am to 6pm (weekdays, Mar to Oct), 10am to 5pm (weekdays, Nov to Feb); 10am to 9pm (weekend, Mar to Oct), 10am to 8pm (weekend, Nov to Feb). Closed Mondays. Admission Permanent Exhibition free; Special Exhibitions 3,000 won. 4th Saturday of each month free. Foreigners dressed in Korean traditional hanbok clothing are admitted for free. Address 331 Gwangmyeong-ro, Gwacheon, Gyeonggi-do Getting There Seoul Grand Park Station, Line 4, Exit 4. Take shuttle bus (arrives every 20-30 min). Tel 02) 2188-6000 Website

Deoksugung Annex Hours 10am to 9pm. Closed Mondays Admission Depends on exhibition Address 99 Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul (inside of Deoksugung Palace) Getting There City Hall Station, Line 1, Exit 2 or Line 2, Exit 12, or a 20-minute walk from Exit 1, 2, or 3 Tel 02) 2022-0600 Website

National Art Museum, Seoul (UUL) (under construction; scheduled to open 2013) Address 7 Yulgok-ro 1-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul Getting There Anguk Station, Line 3, Exit 1 Tel 02) 720-1830 Website

The content of this book has been compiled, edited, and supplemented by Ben Jackson from the following articles published in: KOREANA, Vol. 14, No. 3, Autumn 2000 “An Overview of Specialized Museums” by Kim Quae-jung “The Museum of Korean Embroidery: Utilitarian Aesthetics Reflected in Multicolored Patterns and Embroidery” by Geum Key-sook “Onggi Folk Museum” by Lee Young-ja “Cheongju Early Printing Museum” by Kim Moon-hwan “Agricultural Museum” by Kim Hwang-young

KOREANA, Vol. 15, No. 4, Winter 2001 “The Roots of Korea’s Art Galleries” by Lim Kyung-sik “Musée Whanki” by Park Jang-min “Hakgojae” by Kong Ju-hyung “Gana Art Center” by Jun Seung-bo “Gallery Hyundai” by Kang Jae-hyun “Total Museum” by Noh Joon-eui “Kukje Gallery” by Kim Unsoo

KOREANA, Vol. 19, No. 4, Winter 2005 “National Museum of Korea” by Hwang Pyeong-woo “Korea’s New National Museum Opens Its Doors” by Kim Young-won

PHOTOGRAPHS Korea Tourism Organization 22, 82, 83, 96, 99, 109, 116 Yonhap Photo 24, 25, 27, 29, 30, 31, 39, 57, 59, 80, 96, 107, 118, 119 Image Today 33, 96 Robert Koehler 50, 77, 94, 95, 97, 101, 103 Ryu Seung-hoo 18, 28, 29, 33, 35, 79, 83, 89, 90, 91, 93, 120 Jung Yeondoo 43 National Museum of Korea 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 National Folk Museum of Korea 19, 21 National Palace Museum of Korea 23 War Memorial of Korea 32, 33 US Department of Defense (by Capt. F. L. Scheiber) 35 National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea 40, 44, 45, 61 Seoul Museum of Art 37, 46, 48 Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art 50, 51, 53 Whanki Museum 54, 55 Artsonje Center 59 Ho-Am Art Museum 60 Gallery Hyundai 37, 62, 63, 64 Hakgojae Gallery 66 Gana Art Center 5, 37, 67, 68 Kukje Gallery 70, 71 PKM Gallery 72, 73 Onggi Folk Museum 84, 85 Museum of Korea Straw and Plants Handicraft 86 World Jewellery Museum 87 Museum of Agriculture 88 Gwangju National Museum 104 Jeonju National Museum 105 Buyeo National Museum 106 Cheongju National Museum 109 Gimhae National Museum 110, 111 Chuncheon National Museum 112 Jinju National Museum 114 Gongju National Museum 115 Jeju National Museum 117 Images for which the page number is not indicated above were provided by the relevant artist, museums and galleries.

Credits Publisher

Kim Hyung-geun

Writer Editor Copy Editor Content Advisor

Ben Jackson Park Hye-young Colin A. Mouat Seungeun Euna Yoo (SEY ARTNET)


Shin Eun-ji


he history of Korean museums goes back more than 100 years, to the opening of the Jesil Bangmulgwan in 1909. There are now 11 national museums in provincial cities throughout Korea, unified by the hub that is Seoul’s iconic National Museum of Korea, completed in 2005, while the large number of regional, university, art, specialized and other museums continues to rise. Korea’s galleries emerged one by one with the advent of “modernity,” the flourishing of modern art and the development of the economy, introducing many Korean and international artists and playing an important role in developing popular culture. Korea’s museums and galleries, displaying everything from paleolithic relics to the latest experimental works by contemporary artists, offer windows onto the country’s past, present and future. 9,000 won / US$ 16.00 04080

ISBN 978-89-91913-86-8 ISBN 978-89-91913-70-7 (set)

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