The National Museum of Korea
Come spring and summer the rain will inevitably start to fall and when it does people start to look for things to do inside. The National Museum of Korea (국립중앙박물관) is not only a great thing to do when it’s too cold or too wet to venture out, but it’s also FREE.
The museum was opened in 2005 and it is GIGANCTIC. Visitors could easily spend an entire day enjoying the relics in and around the huge building.
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After walking through the glass doors the main marbled hallway that is open up to the ceiling welcomes those into to the galleries that flank the main walking space. There are three floors to peruse. The first floor showcases Prehistory, Ancient History, Medieval and Early Modern History. The second floor has galleries full of donations from individuals and the Calligraphy and Painting Gallery, while the third floor houses the Sculpture and Crafts Gallery and the Asia Gallery. The intricate statues from the past require more than just a glance and the Buddhist paintings even have benches in front of them so that visitors can take a seat and really take them all in. They are that substantial and worthy of quite a sit.
A Buddhist Hanging Scroll from Budeoksa. It was painted in 1684 and depicts Sakyamuni Buddha preaching the Lotus Sutra on the Vulture Peak.
Sakyamuni is surrounded by his disciples, bodhisattvas, the Four Heavenly Kings and other audiences. This is my favorite painting in the museum and it’s so huge that it hangs on a wall and you can see it on the first floor AND from a balcony on the second. The colors have somehow stood the tests of time and it truly is spectacular and left me with my mouth agape at its magnitude.
The galleries are quiet and benches are sporadically placed for visitors to take a seat and take it all in.
The old paintings and sculptures of Buddha somehow saved throughout Korea’s tumultuous history are beautifully exhibited and the overall atmosphere is calm and serene making the museum a perfect respite away from the busy city sites just outside. Most visitors are walking around with earphones in listening to information about each exhibit while there is a member of the staff stationed in each gallery to maintain the quiet atmosphere while making sure no one is taking pictures with flash. Don’t do that folks. Just don’t do that. The grounds that surround the massive building are also well kept and paths take visitors around a lake and past statues and a pagoda garden. There is a cafeteria and cafe on the grounds and convenience stores and restaurants just outside which means this is a perfect place to spend an entire day when the weather is just not cooperating.
Will you be coming to Seoul to travel? Make sure you know where to stay to see the sights! Check out the Hongdae Designers Hotel to stay in a young art district or the Myeongdong TMark Hotel if you’d like to stay in the shopping district of Seoul. Or if you’d like a more authentic option, stay in a traditional Korean home downtown near the historical neighborhoods that’s been renovated and updated for travelers.
The National Museum of Korea (국립중앙박물관)
137 Seobinggo-ro Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea
서울특별시 용산구 서빙고로 137 (용산동6가)
Directions: Ichon Subway Station exit 2 OR bus #502
Admission: Free, special exhibits are charged separately
Hours of Operation:
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 9:00 – 18:00
Wednesday, Saturday: 9:00 – 21:00
Sunday, Holidays: 9:00 – 19:00
Closed New Year’s Day and Mondays
In English: Tuesday – Sunday at 10:30AM & 2:30PM
In Japanese: Tuesday – Friday at 9:30AM; Saturday & Sunday at 10:30AM & 2:30PM
In Chinese: Tuesday – Friday at 10:30AM; Saturday & Sunday at 10:30AM & 2:30PM
Amenities: Handicap Accessible Services, Baby Strollers, Parking Facilities, Interpretation Services in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese & Japanese*
*Interpretation services should be reserved in advance.