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Saturday, 3 March 2007

The Louvre at the National Museum of Korea

Have you ever been to Paris? Do you dream of visiting the Louvre? What if I told you that you could have a taste of the Louvre, but in Korea? That dream of yours is now a reality. Since last October, there has been the Louvre exhibition at the National Museum of Korea. This exhibition marks the first anniversary of the museum's existence and also marks the 120 years of diplomatic relations between South Korea and France.

The National Museum of Korea is the largest museum in Asia. It is one of the sixth largest museums in the world. Within its first four days of opening, 116,000 visitors had visited the museum. I discovered the exhibit was on at the museum after reading about it at I'm A Seoul Man. It sounded like an interesting experience as these works of art usually can only be seen in the Louvre in Paris. Read here for getting the most out of your visit to the museum.

The subway stop is Yichon Station if you want to visit the museum (take exit 4). Walk about 100 meters and you'll make it to the National Museum of Korea. My first impression was "wow, this museum is enormous"...the Louvre exhibit costs 10,000w ($10USD) for an adult ticket. Unfortunately, this does not include entry into the rest of the museum (it costs 1000w/$1USD admission into the museum; not much but it would've been nice).

Although I am not a self-proclaimed art aficionado, it was quite spectacular to see these paintings up close and personal. The exhibit is divided into eight themes and has various masterpieces. Check out this information courtesy of Tour2Korea:
Exhibition Information: The exhibition will display various genres of masterpieces including the paintings owned by French kings and donated by aristocrats as well as great artists of the time. During the exhibition, which will show paintings according to each era, the art work of great painters from 16C to 19C including Carracci, Tiziano, Poussin, Watteau Gérard, Ingres, Delacroix, Gericault, Corot and Millet will be on display.

Exhibition Highlights: The exhibition is composed of 8 themes so that visitors can get a good feel about European paintings better as well as the harmony and relationship between the nature and human.

[Major Exhibits]
1. Le Bois sacré / Divine Forests
2. L’Age d’Or / Golden Era
3. L’idéal classique / Landscape in classicism
4. Du Caprice au sublime / Fantasy and sublime beauty
5. L’Italie des peintres / Italian painters
6. La Chasse et la Guerre/ Hunting and war
7. Portrait et Paysage / Portrait and landscape
8. La Nature pour elle-même / Nature itself
Here is an overview of how large the museum is:

Cotton candy can be purchased on the street and served in cup, to be eaten with a little pick. It's fun for the entire family. Sold by street vendors outside the entrance to the museum.

These tickets will no longer be sold in two weeks--that is when the Louvre exhibit ends:

This is the left half of the museum--its designed as one giant rectangle:

...here is the other half of the museum, as seen from the outside:

There's also a small body of water outside the museum as well, along with numerous trees and various shrubbery. "Look at me, I'm climbing the fence!"--ten minutes later, she jumped in!

People love to take pictures in Korea. You'll see tonnes of backdrops where people can strike a pose:

Entering the exhibit...we're getting close! Note that cameras are not permitted inside the exhibit and photography is not allowed, especially flash photography...hmmm...

Well, I had my Canon EOS 400D SLR around my neck and nobody stopped me from entering. I was quite surprised once inside the exhibit as how open it was. The only protection these paintings had was a velvet rope about one meter away. You could almost touch and taste the paintings (who tastes paintings?). It was pretty relaxed to the point where I was worried for these masterpieces. The staff on site didn't do much, most of them were checking their cellphones for the majority of the time. Umm...should I be contacting the French authorities?

Also, cellphones were prohibited as well. But, there's always one person who breaks these rules (it reminds me of myself with my camera) and it was a girl yakking on her cellphone in front of us. Oh, what do we have here? Pictures of a couple paintings from inside the exhibit. I wonder who took these pictures discreetly by aiming randomly and shooting without the flash on??

And, here is yours truly and Devante posing for the camera--"Look ma, we're at the Louvre!"

We had a great time at the exhibit and will be returning to see the museum itself. The museum is so big it will take multiple visits to see all the venues. Detailed Louvre visitor information can be found here:

What about the National Museum of Korea itself? Here's some information about the museum:
Address : 168-6 Yongsan-dong 6 ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea
Phone : +82-2-2077-9000 (English, Japanese, Chinese)
Homepage : http://www.museum.go.kr (Korean/English/Japanese/Chinese)
Admissions(20 or more for group admissions)
1, Free Admissions from Oct. 28 – Dec. 31, 2005
2, From Jan. 1, 2006
Adults (Ages 19-64) : Individual - ₩2,000 / Group - ₩1,500
Children (Ages 7-18) : Individual - ₩1,000 / Group - ₩500
* Admissions for the Children’s Museum: Ages 7-64 ₩500
* Free Admissions for visitors under the age of 7 or above the age of 64.
Opening Hours
Weekdays: Tuesday – Friday : 09:00 – 18:00
Weekends: Sat, Sun, Holidays : 09:00 – 19:00
* Ticket Office Hours : Open until 1 hour prior to Museum’s closing hour
Closed : Every Monday starting from January 2006
Free Admissions : Every fourth Saturday starting from Jan. 2006
Group Admissions : Internet reservations required 1 week prior to visit
* Group of 20 or more. The maximum number of reservations per day is 3,600 persons


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