Night at the Museum – many have surely fantasized about it. And being here in Seoul, one might wonder what it would be like if Yongsan’s National Museum of Korea were to come alive. Unfortunately, the collection being shown right now are centered on art, hence no dolls or animals to go around the museum at night. It could also be because of the absence of Ahkmenrah and his tablet. Although there may be no coming-to-life artifacts, the special exhibition “Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum” will surely have the National Museum crowded.
As one of the largest museums in Asia, the National Museum of Korea presents two or three “blockbuster class” exhibitions every year, and luckily, this year, in collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the museum is featuring 229 treasures from the ancient Egyptian collection. The Brooklyn Museum is also well known for its comprehensive Korean art collection and has a dedicated Korean Gallery space to display Korean art and culture. So, yes I had to go see it.
At 11 o’clock on a weekday, I did not expect to see a huge crowd that was so apparent even from afar. Getting closer to the crowd, I realize that school holidays have begun; there were flocks of students eager to get in. At that moment, I knew it was impossible to have a leisurely viewing in the exhibition.
It was a nightmare. As a loving and generous adult, it didn’t seem right to work myself into a pool of boisterous children. Kids, I would love to actually see the letters written on the papyrus and take a closer look at the mummies, too! You’d expect most of the relics to be big because the pyramids are big, but oh the twist of fate. Luck wasn’t on my side at all. The relics were rather small in size, so unless I really put some effort into pushing people left and right, all I could get was a glimpse view over my shoulders. Obviously, it was challenging to be overwhelmed by any spiritual charisma such as immortality, afterlife, or any words associated with the pharaoh or mummy. Once I left the exhibition, I realized it was just my misconception to expect all Egyptian treasures to be extravagant or grand in size.
The exhibition offers a great learning environment providing useful information such as the Egyptian timetable and meticulously marked maps of where the mummies were excavated. Also, there are separate study/play areas at the end of each station at the exhibition. Though various activities are offered at the exhibition, it is just a bit disappointing to see that they are clearly targeted toward children, which limits the range of audience.
The museum is open until 9 pm every Wednesday and Saturday. I recommend that you plan a visit when school re-starts or anytime later in the evening when the crowd settles down a bit.
Written by sich.h (freelancer)