Seoul Museum of Art (SEMA)

Unlike museums in Singapore which only have free entry to Singaporeans, museums in Korea (such as National Museum) are free to all, including tourists.

Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) is a Korean modern art museum conveniently located in the Deoksugung Palace area near Jeongdong Theater (traditional performances) and Nanta Theater.

SeMA is a 3-story building with 6 exhibition halls, a lecture hall for educational programs, and a library where art-related books, magazines, and visual reference materials are available to the public. In one of the exhibition halls is a permanent collection titled “The Soul of Chun Kyung Ja,” an exhibition of the works of the famous Korean artist Chun Kyung Ja.

Plus point: This was the filming location for “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo”!


To be honest, I just thought the rose sculpture was very nice when I snapped the photograph below, but I hadn’t realized that it was a filming location until I Googled SEMA to write this post. Oops.

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An interesting experience we had was queueing up for some product sample in front of the museum. There were cameras rolling and most importantly, free food!

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This was honestly really delicious


Anyway, back to SEMA – one of my favourite museums in Singapore is SAM (Singapore Art Museum), which often refreshes its exhibitions with interesting pieces from the region. I had seen a few memorable artworks from Korean artists, so I was hoping that this museum would be a good experience.

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As you can see, the museum is actually pretty crowded because we went on a Saturday. Most of the museum visitors were actually locals, rather than tourists.

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All the exhibits come with explanations in Korean and English, which was very helpful because I try to make it a point to find out more about the artists’ backgrounds and motivations for their works.

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There was a photography exhibition, but I did wish they had shown more works that used photography as a medium, especially since there are quite a few notable Korean photographers.

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I did find it interesting how the museum doesn’t shy away from nudity in the art pieces displayed, and none of the visitors looked squeamish.

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The museum wasn’t very big, and we were done in about 2 hours. I appreciated how they displayed many works from Korean artists for a local perspective. I think the sizeable turnout at the museum is also a telling sign of a deep appreciation of the arts in Korea. Rather than taking photos of themselves or selfies at the exhibits, I actually saw many visitors discussing with one another about the works they were looking at.

If you have a keen interest in the arts, do include this destination in your itinerary. Actually, even if you don’t, it’s still worth coming by – after all, it’s free!


OPENING HOURS

March-October: Weekday 10:00-20:00 / Weekends & National Holidays 10:00-19:00
November-February: Weekdays 10:00-20:00 / Weekends & National Holidays 10:00-18:00

* Museum Day: First and third Tuesday of every month 10-20:00
* Last admission: 1hr before closing.


DIRECTIONS

Address: 61, Deoksugung-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 중구 덕수궁길 61 (서소문동)

[Subway]
City Hall Station (Subway Line 1, 2), Exit 1.
– Go to the right and turn down the first street on your left before Deoksugung Palace.

– Keep going for 5 minutes; the museum is on a small hill to the left.
Or,
Gwanghwamun Station (Subway Line 5), Exit 5
– Go straight 5 minutes until reaching Seoul Plaza.
– Cross the road, go towards Deoksugung Palace, and turn right immediately after the palace’s main gate.

For more information, visit KTO’s website here.

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