When the days are chilly and the skies grey, what better to do then explore a city’s indoor wonders?
Seoul is by no means lacking in aesthetic experiences- the vivid patterning of temple roofs and the frenetic blend of colour, taste and scent in a street food alleyway being just two examples. Art museums all around the world offer similar experiences, so why not see what the creative side of Seoul has to offer in its galleries and museums?
I assumed there would be an entrance fee for the Seoul Museum of Art, so imagine my happiness when it turned out to be free of charge! I was particularly taken with the Africa Now exhibit, which highlighted the diaspora of African artists exploring both traditional and modern artistic concepts.
One of Seoul’s main palaces, Deoksugung, is adjacent to the Seoul Museum of Art. While not as impressive as Gyeongbokgung, it is worth exploring in its own right, especially when you consider the mere 1000 won entrance fee.
I also enjoyed the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art near Itaewon. It consists of two adjacent buildings, with Museum 1 housing five levels of traditional Korean calligraphy, paintings, pottery and other historical items. Museum 2 showcases three floors of diverse contemporary art.
Unfortunately, photography was not allowed within the galleries. However, I found nearly every piece engaging, and recommend paying the 10 000 won fee to see it for yourself. My friend Soozie and I generated many bizarre and creative theories about the meaning of each piece as we wandered. (Perhaps we were a little too wired after the museum cafe’s delicious espresso!)
Greeting us in the lobby was Japanese artist Kohei Nawa’s stunning work. Two taxidermied deer were spliced together and covered entirely with glass crystals of various sizes. The piece seemed extremely familiar, and it turns out my memory served me well- a piece from the same collection, PixCell, had been on display at Melbourne’s NGV when I was living in the Land Down Under!
To visit the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, take exit 2 at Hangangjin station. Walk for about 200 metres, then turn right down the first alley. Walk for several minutes up the hill, following the museum’s signs along the way.
Art galleries and museums can expose us to new and creative ways of seeing the world- all around the planet! What is your favourite art museum, and why?