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The 10 Best Museums In Seoul

Published by: Bounce20 December, 2022
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Seoul, South Korea, is the capital city of the country as well as its biggest. This megacity is home to nearly 10 million citizens, and humans have been living in this area since about 2,000 years ago. This leaves Seoul with a fascinating history as well as a rich cultural importance, with intriguing UNESCO World Heritage sites like the Jongmyo Shrine. With modern attractions as well as incredible historical landmarks, a trip to Seoul can be whatever you want it to be.

No matter why you are traveling, whether for business or for pleasure, it is always nice to learn more about the city that you are staying in. In Seoul, one of the best ways to do that is to visit some of the local museums which can tell you all about the traditions of South Korea, as well as an abundance of other interesting topics! Keep reading to find out a little more about some of the best museums in the city.

Museum hopping tip: Most museums do not allow large bags to be brought inside. When you are ready to explore some of the exhibition halls, stow your bags safely in a suitcase locker in Seoul. After you've enjoyed a day of learning, pick up your belongings before returning to your accommodation.

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National Palace Museum of Korea

The area surrounding Seoul is actually home to 40 royal tombs that date back to the Joseon Dynasty, which lasted for five centuries between 1392 and 1897. It was the last royal and longest Confucian dynasty to rule, and the National Palace Museum of Korea can teach you all about it!

This museum is home to an impressive collection of artifacts that consists of over 40,000 objects and royal treasures. This is where you can get an insight into what life was like during the Joseon Dynasty, from its art and music to the scientific beliefs of the period. If you are lucky there might be a temporary exhibit visiting while you are in town! Head to 12 Hyoja-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul.

Seoul Museum of History

Of all the history museums in Seoul, this one can probably give you the most extensive lesson on the timeline of the city, dating back from the prehistoric period to the present day. If this is your first time in this part of South Korea then you will probably want to stop by this museum at some point.

Found at 55 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, you can see the radical changes that have happened in Seoul first hand through the maps, photographs, artworks, and artifacts in the Museum of History. By following the permanent exhibition you will be taken on an exciting journey beginning back when it was the capital of the Joseon Dynasty. Aside from an intriguing history lesson, you will also get to learn more about fashion, urban planning, and other aspects of the city through fun temporary displays.

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National Folk Museum of Korea

After learning about the early beginnings of the city of Seoul you can move on to discovering more about the culture and traditions of its people at the National Folk Museum of Korea. This national museum offers detailed descriptions and displays about the livelihoods of the people throughout Korean history, and it has been open to the public since 1945.

Make your way to 37 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul. Found here is an open-air museum where you will get to walk around the grounds of the Gyeongbokgung Palace to see the 98,000 artifacts on display. The history museum is split into three main exhibition halls; the History of Korean People, the Korean Way of Life, and the Life Cycle of the Koreans. Come here to get a better idea of the customs, traditions, and beliefs of the people of Korea!

Leeum Samsung Museum of Art

This is one of the best art museums in Seoul and it is situated in the heart of the city. First opening its doors in 2004, the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art is an institution that is now known around the world and it features a large collection of modern and contemporary art, as well as a variety of traditional Korean art pieces and folk paintings. The historical gallery also houses artifacts like ancient daggers, earrings, crowns, and other cool pieces like traditional ceramics!

Whether you are a fan of old or modern art, this museum is definitely somewhere that you will want to visit. Even the building, which was designed by architects Jean Nouvel, Rem Koolhaas, and Mario Botta, is a work of art in itself! You can always look forward to something new since there are often temporary exhibitions and events happening. You can find this attraction at 60-16 Itaewon-ro 55-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul.

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War Memorial of Korea

The War Memorial of Korea will introduce you to the many incredible stories from Korea's 5,000 years of history. Located at 29 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, it is appropriately situated on what was once an army headquarters, and the museum is split up into different areas both indoors and outdoors. The first of the two main exhibitions is the Memorial Hall which does a nice job of remembering all of the soldiers who fought and fell during the war.

By visiting the War Room you will get to see all kinds of interesting Korean weapons, some of which are as old as the Paleolithic age! This part of the museum features artillery, suits of armor, helmets, and swords coming from different times throughout the ages. There is also an entire area dedicated to the 1950s Korean War and the Vietnam War. Take the time to explore the Combat Experience Room to see live reenactments of the wars, as well as the Expeditionary Forces room, the Defense Industry room, and the ROK Armed Forces room.

Trick Eye Museum

After visiting several museums dedicated to wars and history, it is about time to check out a silly and fun museum. The Trick Eye Museum is just the right place to go! The building is filled with interactive exhibits and paintings that change and move, or at least seem to. There are about 50 different zones where you can take crazy photos with your friends!

The displays in this museum can transform you and your friends into different creatures, like an amazing mermaid, or they can make it look like you are having an intense battle with a dragon in the sea! It is a great place to take kids as well. The address is 29 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul.

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Daelim Museum

As the first photography museum in South Korea, the Daelim Museum really stands out from the rest. You will find it near the Gyeongbokgung Palace which is where the National Folk Museum of Korea is, so consider visiting both in one day!

Although much of its displays focus on photography, the exhibition space of the museum also houses other forms of creative art. Many of them will make you stop to think, and afterward you will see everyday objects, as well as life in general, in a different way. The location is 21 Jahamun-ro 4-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul.

D Museum

If you are near the Seoul Forest Station you might spot the D Museum. The address is 83-21 Wangsimni-ro, Seongdong-gu, Seoul. This will be a favorite among those who have an interest in history and culture. Their permanent collection is filled with objects from ancient times and it is also a venue for fascinating special exhibitions and events. It is one of the top museums in Seoul for learning about old Korean culture and practices, as well as seeing modern and contemporary art trends.

Ancient pottery and ceramics will act as a window for you to learn more about what Seoul was like throughout the years, and comparing them to the modern art that the museum also houses can be interesting. Keep this one in mind the next time that there is a rainy day and you want something to do!

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National Museum of Korea

The National Museum of Korea is a symbol of freedom since it was opened in 1945, and in the same year, Korea succeeded in becoming independent from Japan. If you only visit one museum during your vacation this should be the one, although making your way through each of its main exhibitions will take you all afternoon! Found at 137 Seobinggo-ro, Yongsan-gu, the museum is massive and altogether its three main floors are equal to the size of 56 football fields.

From prehistoric times to more recent events in Seoul's development, the National Museum of Korea really covers it all. Walking through its archeological and historical gallery on the first floor will be an incredible experience since you will get to look at items dating back to 1392. In total, the museum houses 220,000 items on the first, second, and third floors, some of which are owned by individual collectors, although only 13,000 are put on display at a time. Special exhibitions and activities are held every Saturday, and the botanical gardens just outside should be included in your visit as well.

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

Another destination should be 30 Samcheong-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul. Also known as the MMCA, this establishment is split up into three separate buildings around the city. This is one of Seoul's oldest museums dating back to 1969 and the newest and main representative of the museum is housed near the Palace. Its exhibition hall mainly focuses on works made by Korean artists and there are about 150,000 works to admire.

The fun part about this museum is that you can see artworks from a wide range of time periods, like contemporary art and traditional Korean art. The museum offers a library, auditorium, and research center as well. In the future, the museum is planning to incorporate global artworks into its collection, too.

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What are the best free museums in Seoul?

National Palace Museum of Korea

If you are looking to save money or you want to visit as many museums in Seoul as possible, put the National Palace Museum of Korea on your list. You can see the impressive collection of national treasures completely for free!

Seoul Museum of History

You can learn a lot about Korean history at this Seoul museum, and you won't even have to pay to get in! Take advantage of this rare chance to learn about the city and to see some cool exhibitions without paying.

War Memorial of Korea

Another free museum to visit in Seoul is the War Memorial of Korea. Although entrance to the basic permanent collection is free, you might have to pay to get access to special exhibitions.

Which are the best museums in Downtown Seoul?

National Folk Museum of Korea

The National Folk Museum of Korea is conveniently located in the city center of Seoul on the grounds of the Palace. Stop by the next time that you are in the area!

Daelim Museum

The Daelim Museum can also be found in the heart of the city. That makes it the perfect addition to your list of museums to visit, and you can even go museum hopping by stopping by some of the others found in the area!

Are there any cheap museums in Seoul?

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

The regular entrance fee for the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is 4,000 won, which is very affordable. But if you plan out your visit there is a chance that you can get access to the exhibition halls for free! This goes for seniors over the age of 65, students under the age of 24, and people who are members of the MMCA at all times, as well as the rest of the general public on Saturday and Wednesday evenings.

D Museum

Looking for more affordable options for museums in Seoul? The D Museum is also a great choice since some exhibits can be seen for as little as 6,000 won. If you want to check out some of the newer displays, the price can go up to about 18,000 won.

Discovering the Best Seoul Museums

Flying into Incheon Airport? Get ready for a fantastic vacation! Seoul is a great city to travel to if you like shopping, dining out, seeing sights for free, and visiting fabulous museums. There are so many fascinating exhibits that can teach you about art, science, or give you an idea of what the traditional life of a Korean villager was like hundreds of years ago. There are actually quite a few of them that can be entered for free, and many others that are reasonably priced as well. Check out some of these Seoul museums if you ever get the chance to visit the capital of South Korea!

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