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Best Museums in Seoul

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The 27,000 square meter(6.67 acres) Samsung Museum of Art Complex was designed in 1997. It provides support to cultural and artistic activities, thus increasing their life span and raising their historical value. The Institute is involved in the following: conservation of metal and ceramic works, Korean paintings and contemporary and modern art works. Artworks are preserved here through application of the most advanced technology. The experts undertake the material study to establish appropriate environmental conditions and develop better conservation and restoration techniques.

Established in 1994, the War Memorial of Korea is one of the largest of its kind in the world and occupies the former army headquarters. It honors those who lost their lives fighting for their country through the course of the Korean War. The memorial comprises both indoor and outdoor exhibition halls that display a curated selection of 10,000 military relics, artillery, ammunition, documents, photographs and other artifacts from the museum's 33,000-strong collection pertaining to the nation's long and illustrious war history. Although primarily focused on the events of the Korean War, the museum also delves into battles preceding it and the international wars that Korean troops were involved in to provide a wider and more comprehensive understanding of the topic. An evocative memorial to the cost of war, as well as a testament to the nation's military prowess, the War Memorial of Korea is a chronicle of the events that shaped the geo-political history of the Korean Peninsula.

Opened in 1987, this museum chronicles the history of Korea's agriculture. There are seven exhibition halls including the Prehistory Hall, Three Kingdoms Hall, Chosun Hall and Monthly Work Hall. The most interesting display, however, is about the history of making kimchi and you can learn how to make it in one of the classes offered. Outside the museum, there are numerous examples of popular plants from around Korea, including a rice paddy. In the garden, there is a water mill and a grindstone that was once driven by oxen.

The National Museum of Korea is one of the most extensive museums in Seoul, housing art and archaeological objects from Korean prehistory through to the end of the Chosun Dynasty (1910). Throughout the three-floor museum, there are 13,000 artifacts in six permanent galleries on display. Audio guides, touch screens, and video rooms all help to bring the ancient world alive here. In addition to regular exhibitions, the museum offers special educational programs such as public lectures, arts and crafts classes, and special tours. There are over 220,000 objects in the collections. In addition there are special exhibition halls, education facilities, a children's museum, a huge outdoor exhibition area, restaurants, cafes, shops, and other amenities.

The National Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art (MMCA) opened another branch on Culture Street, in Seoul. An innovative addition to this particular branch, which sets it apart from its counterparts is that of the madang or courtyard where like-minded people can connect and discuss the topic of art. Striving to keep up with its innovative reputation, the MMCA is equipped with a multipurpose hall, a reference center and a gallery theater. It also houses the MMCA Art Zone and a food café within its premises.

Located on the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace, the National Folk Museum of Korea is a must see for those interested in Korean history. Established and operated by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, it has more than 25,000 artifacts on show. This is one of the best places to learn about the religious rituals, housing, food, household tools and implements, customs, and everyday life of the kings and common people in the Joseon Dynasty. Admission is included in admission to the Palace.

Operated by the city council, the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) is situated in what was formerly a palace. The museum spreads over several buildings and showcases beautiful pieces of fine artworks. You can stroll through their main exhibition space which has works segregated according to different themes and houses collection by some famed local and international artists like Van Gogh and Pon Pidou. Ensure that you take a look at their outdoor sculpture garden, which is very unique.

The Trick Eye Museum exemplifies the trompe l'oeil art technique that creates optical illusions on two-dimensional paintings. Up for viewing are creative and imaginative pieces and funny renditions of renowned artwork like the Mona Lisa and Michelangelo's David. The unique establishment is housed in the Santorini Seoul, the city's cultural hub, and features thematic rooms, including backdrops of Venetian canals and Amsterdam windmills. A visit here is truly a one-of-a-kind experience; and with strategic posing, you can be a part of the interactive images.

Housed in the city's imposing Gyeongbokgung Palace, National Palace Museum of Korea has been a city landmark since the year 1908. Home to more than 40,000 treasures and antiques, it lures in history lovers with some riveting displays pertaining to royal life, architecture, music and art works of the era when dynasty rule was at its peak. The museum's first floor features collections related to literary works produced by Korean royals and other royal artifacts, such as the vintage cars which ferried King Sunjong. Second level has objects chronicling the daily affairs of the royal court, science, architecture and symbols used by the royals. Accessories and costumes adorned by the noble clan of Joseon Dynasty are also exhibited here. Korea's first ever automatic time-keeping device, called 'Jagyeokru' is presented in the basement exposition space. Ceremonial items and musical equipment from the colonial rule can also be witnessed at the basement archives.

Located just north of Namsan Park, Namsangol Hanok Village is a re-creation of a small village which depicts the architecture and gardens of the Joseon Dynasty (1393-1910). There are five restored traditional houses decorated with authentic furniture and fittings from that era. A large pavilion overlooks a beautiful pond and an outdoor theater hosts dance and drama performances on weekends. There is also a hall displaying traditional handicrafts and a kiosk selling souvenirs.

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