Korean Museums in Seoul You Must See

Photo of the war memorial museum of Seoul

Looking for fun activities for a rainy day in Seoul? You don’t have to make travel outside the city to enjoy yourself or plan out a long-distance trip.

If you fancy museums, Seoul has a lot to offer. Traditional or modern, light or serious, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Take a look at this list of Seoul museums and enjoy your time rain or shine!

Photo of the war memorial museum of Seoul

National Museum of Korea (국립중앙박물관)

National Museum of Korea

Photo credit: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/

With roughly 3 million visitors per year, it’s one of the most frequented museums in the world. Opened in 1945, there are over 10,000 art pieces and relics displayed at any given time, with many rotating galleries from international galleries such as Japan or Europe.

Their permanent galleries are also impressive. On the first floor, you can find the archeological and historical gallery with pieces of art dating all the way back to the early history of Korea. On the second floor, they have calligraphy and paintings, plus works from individual collectors. On the third floor, there are stunning Buddhist sculptures, and other art representing Asia and its culture.

The surrounding gardens and architecture can also make for a nice day trip in good weather.

Website: http://www.museum.go.kr/site/main/home

Where: Ichon Station on Line 4 (Seoul, Yongsan-gu, Seobbingo-ro 137  //서울특별시 용산구 서빙고로 137)

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War Memorial of Korea (전쟁기념관)

War Memorial Seoul

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There are two main exhibitions in this museum, one inside and the other outside. The hall indoors has exhibitions related to all the wars South Korea has been in.

Outdoors, you can see various tanks, vehicles, submarines, aircraft and artillery that Korea used during World War 2, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. You can even visit inside them!

Website: http://www.warmemo.or.kr

Where: Samgakji Station on Line 4 (Seoul, Yongsan-gu, Itaewon-ro 29 // 서울특별시 용산구 이태원로 29)

Trick Eye Museum (트릭아이 뮤지엄)

Seoul Trick Eye Museum

http://www.slate.com/

If you’re looking for a fun museum to visit, this should be at the top of your list! The Trick Eye Museum contains art pieces are designed so that you can make yourself a part of them, and perhaps even snap a photo in the process. There are simple guides to give you instructions on how to do that. While it doesn’t have the same cultural experience you might expect from a South Korean museum, it can be a fun diversion, especially for children.

The pictures are actually 2D, but made using optical illusion techniques so they look 3D. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon with your friends!

Website: http://trickeye.com/

Where: Hongik University Station on Line 2 (Seoul, Mapo-gu, Hongik-ro 3-gil 20 // 서울특별시 마포구 홍익로3길 20)

Seoul Museum of History (서울역사박물관)

Seoul Museum of History

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This museum is especially recommended for those interested in getting educated from their visit. Learn how Seoul grew from its prehistoric period to the city that it is now. There are also special exhibitions that you can find out about from their site.

Website: http://eng.museum.seoul.kr/eng/index.do

Where: Seodaemun Station or Gwanghwamun Station on Line 5 (Seoul, Jongno-gu, Saemunan-ro 55 // 서울특별시 종로구 새문안로 55)

Leeum Samsung Museum of Art (삼성미술관 리움)

Leeum Samsung Museum of Art

http://theculturetrip.com/

This museum is actually two different museums in one. Museum 1 displays several types of traditional Korean art on display, from paintings to ceramics. Museum 2, on the other hand, focuses on modern and contemporary art.

The art is from both Korean artists and foreign collaborators as well. In addition to the regular exhibitions, there are also special ‘featured’ exhibitions on display, changing every three months. If you’re interested in experiencing the arts, or just looking at some beautiful displays, this is the place.

Website: http://leeum.samsungfoundation.org/html/global/main.asp

Where: Hangangjin Station on Line 6 (Seoul, Yongsan-gu, Itaewon-55-gil 60-16 // 서울특별시 용산구 이태원55길 60-16)

National Folk Museum of Korea (국립민속박물관)

National Folk Museum of Korea

http://frog30000.tistory.com/

There’s no better cultural experience to teach you about Korea’s history than this museum, which is conveniently located near Gyeongbok Palace. There are three main exhibition halls in this museum.

The first one, called ‘History of Korean People’, is focused on displaying all sorts of everyday life materials in Korea dating all the way from prehistoric times to 1910.

The second exhibition, named ‘The Korean Way of Life’, will show you how the life of a Korean villager in the ancient times was like. The third exhibition, ‘Life Cycle of the Koreans’, centers on Confucianism and how this ideology has affected the life of Koreans in Korea.

Website: http://www.nfm.go.kr/language/english/main.jsp

Where: Gyeongbokgung Station on Line 3 (Seoul, Jongno-gu, Samcheong-ro 37 // 서울특별시 종로구 삼청로 37)

Seodaemun Prison History Museum (서대문형무소역사관)

Seodaemun Prison History Museum

http://www.theseoulguide.com/

This is perhaps the most heart-wrenching museum you’ll find on this list. The Seodaemun Prison History Museum not only exhibits the prison, but also tells of the history when Japanese soldiers tortured and executed the followers of the Korean Independence Movement.

There are different halls and displays on show, with ‘A Place of Reverence’ on the first floor being the most grueling one of them all. It’s a must-visit museum for when you’re in Seoul, even if it’s not a fun activity per se.

Website: www.sscmc.or.kr

Where: Dongnimmun Station on Line 3 (Seoul, Seodaemun-gu, Tongil-ro 251 // 서울특별시 서대문구 통일로 251)

National Museum of Korean Contemporary History (대한민국역사박물관)

National Museum of Korean Contemporary History

http://www.korea.net/

Yet another museum on the history of Korea, this one is focused on showing South Korea’s history specifically from the late nineteenth century until the present, with around 16,000 pieces in their collection. There are four exhibition halls that you can explore, each focusing on a different time period.

Website: http://www.much.go.kr/

Where: Gwanghwamun Station on Line 5 (Seoul, Jongno-gu, Sejong-daero 198 // 서울특별시 종로구 세종대로 198)

The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (국립현대미술관)

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul

https://culture360.asef.org

Unlike a lot of the other museums on this list, this museum focuses on displaying contemporary art on an international level rather than focusing on Korea or Korean artists. There are several different exhibitions on display at all times.

Website: http://www.mmca.go.kr/

Where: Gyeongbokgung Station or Anguk Station on Line 3 (Seoul, Jongno-gu, Samcheong-ro 30 // 서울특별시 종로구 삼청로 30)

Dongdaemun Design Plaza (동대문디자인플라자)

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

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Dongdaemun Design Plaza, or DDP for short, hosts five different museums (plus numerous art galleries and several other things) on its grounds. The museums are centered on design and other contemporary and modern art. Their exhibitions change every so often, with artists from all over the world having their works on display.

The area itself also features impressive architecture and outdoor displays in its gardens. A great place for a stroll, even if you’re not interested in museums.

Website: http://www.ddp.or.kr/main

Where: Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station on Line 2, 4 and 5 (Seoul, Jung-gu, Eulji-ro 281 // 서울특별시 중구 을지로 281)


We hope these museums offer a nice little day trip for you while you're in Korea. There's plenty more to do when you get through this list!

Which of these Seoul museums have you been to? Let us know your favorite in the comments below!

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