27 of the Best Museums in Seoul You Need to Visit
Looking for a good museum to check out in Seoul? Maybe it’s rainy season or maybe you just want to learn something new – there are plenty of options in every part of the city! From the vast National Museum of Korea to smaller hidden gems like the Traditional Herb Medicine Museum, you’ll find just the right museum to explore in the list below!
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5 Things to know about Museums in Korea
Before we jump into the list of the best museums in Seoul, there are a few things you should know about museums in Korea.
- Many museums in Korea offer affordable admission fees or are completely free to enter. Yay!
- Museums in Korea cover various themes, including history, arts and crafts, modern art, science, and natural history. There’s really something for everyone!
- Many Korean museums incorporate some sort of interactive displays and cutting-edge technology to create immersive exhibitions. This will get even the biggest museum skeptic interested in the exhibitions.
- Many Korean museums have gained international acclaim for their quality and significance. International exhibitions often come to Korea to tour.
Closed on Mondays
- It is important to note that most museums in Korea are closed on Mondays. Keep this in mind when planning your visit!
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The Best History Museums in Seoul
Here’s a list of the best 27 museums in Seoul, known for their cultural, historical, and artistic significance:
National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관
Starting off the list with the largest museum in the country: The National Museum of Korea. This museum perfectly showcases Korea’s rich history and heritage. Spanning an impressive size of approximately 137,000 square meters, the museum houses over 220,000 artifacts and artworks.
Its vast collection covers various periods, from prehistoric times to the modern era. The museum’s exhibitions focus on diverse themes, including archaeology, fine arts, history, and cultural relics. Noteworthy must-see items include the “Gold Crown” from the Silla Kingdom, the “Pensive Bodhisattva” statue from the Goryeo Dynasty, and the “Ten-story Pagoda” from the Gyeongcheonsa Temple.
A visit to the National Museum of Korea offers visitors a profound understanding of the country’s cultural legacy and its contributions to the world.
War Memorial of Korea 전쟁기념관
The War Memorial of Korea in Seoul is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the nation’s military history. The museum is quite large, showcasing around 33,000 military artifacts and equipment.
The exhibitions focus on important events like the Korean War and other notable battles. One of the highlights is the outdoor exhibition area, where you can see tanks, planes, and other military vehicles up close.
Don’t miss the Statue of Brothers, which represents the division of Korea, and the War Memorial Hall, where the names of fallen soldiers are honored.
Visiting the War Memorial of Korea is a powerful experience that allows you to learn about the country’s past and pay tribute to its brave servicemen and women.
National Hangeul Museum 국립한글박물관
If you are learning Korean or are planning to, the National Hangeul Museum should be on your list. It’s a fascinating place that celebrates the Korean alphabet, Hangeul.
The museum isn’t too big, but it has around 6,000 interesting things on display related to Hangeul. The exhibitions there are all about the history, development, and importance of the Korean writing system.
When you visit, make sure not to miss the replica of the Hunminjeongeum manuscript, which introduced Hangeul to the world. You can also see beautiful calligraphy works, old documents, and even try writing in Hangeul yourself using interactive displays.
Exploring the National Hangeul Museum is a great way to learn about the origins and significance of the Korean alphabet and appreciate its influence on Korean culture.
Seoul Museum of History 서울역사박물관
This museum focuses on the vibrant past of the city of Seoul. The museum is also quite big with around 40,000 artifacts and exhibits on display.
It focuses on telling the story of Seoul’s history and how the city has developed over time. When you visit, make sure to check out the recreated street scenes from different eras. It feels like stepping back in time and gives you a taste of what Seoul used to be like.
The museum also has interesting displays about traditional culture, architecture, and how the city has changed over the years.
Visiting the Seoul Museum of History is a great way to learn about Seoul’s unique heritage and gain a deeper understanding of the city’s roots.
National Folk Museum of Korea 국립민속박물관
This beautiful museum located on the Gyeongbokgung Palace grounds should be on everybody’s list.
The museum is quite big and has around 98,000 interesting things on display focusing on the daily life, customs, and traditions of Korean people throughout history.
One must-see exhibition is called “The History of Korean People,” which gives you a great overview of Korean folk culture.
Don’t forget to explore the outdoor Folk Village, where you can wander through traditional houses and see artisans at work.
Seodaemun Museum of Natural History 서대문자연사박물관
The Seodaemun Museum of Natural History in Seoul is a fascinating place to learn about nature. It’s not a big museum but it has around 4,500 interesting things to see.
The museum focuses on showing the natural history and different kinds of plants and animals.
When you go, make sure to check out the displays that show animals and plants in their habitats. They look very real! The museum also has fun things to do for families and kids.
Exploring the Seodaemun Museum of Natural History is a great way to enjoy and learn about nature’s amazing wonders.
Seodaemun Prison History Hall 서대문형무소역사관
The Seodaemun Prison History Hall, located in Seoul, is a significant historical site that sheds light on Korea’s tumultuous past.
The exhibitions narrow down on the history and significance of Seodaemun Prison, which was used to detain and torture Korean independence activists during the Japanese colonial period.
Visitors can take a look at the actual prison cells that have been preserved to show the harsh conditions endured by the prisoners.
The museum also features informative displays, photographs, and personal accounts, providing a deeper understanding of the struggles and sacrifices made for Korea’s independence.
Seoul Olympic Museum
The Seoul Olympic Museum is a special place that remembers the 1988 Summer Olympics held in Seoul. Come and learn all about the importance of the Olympics and how it changed the city.
When you go, make sure to see the Olympic torch from the opening ceremony, the medals won by athletes, and the fun interactive displays.
Donuimun Museum Village
If you want to get a feel for what Seoul was like back in the day, head to Donuimun Museum Village, a place that preserves the history of modern and contemporary Seoul.
This village is a treasure trove of traces from the past, showcasing the city’s historical and cultural heritage. Instead of being demolished, it has been transformed into a museum village, preserving its original appearance for all to appreciate.
Explore old architecture, facilities, and even replicated studios and exhibitions in the Hall of Seoul Future Heritage, which provides an educational and enriching experience, especially for children.
Moreover, the village’s hanok architecture space offers an opportunity to experience and learn about Korean traditions.
Songpa Book Museum
Korea’s first public book museum is a true haven for bibliophiles. Step into the pages of books with its unique architectural design, resembling a giant bookshelf.
This museum offers a delightful experience, where visitors can immerse themselves in the world of books like never before.
The museum has multiple floors with different things to see and do. On the first floor, there’s a special area for kids called Bookium and a hall for lectures. The second floor has a library, exhibits, and a nice outdoor garden.
If you’re interested in learning how to make books, the museum even has a place for that!
The Story of King Sejong Exhibition Hall
You know the famous King Sejong statue in Gwanghwamun Plaza near Gyeongbokgung Palace? There’s actually a hidden, free museum underneath it!
The Story of King Sejong highlights King Sejong’s significant contributions in science, art, military, and politics.
One of his most remarkable achievements was the creation of Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, which revolutionized communication in Korea. As the 4th king of the Joseon dynasty (reigning from 1418-1450), King Sejong’s reign was marked by brilliant advancements in various fields, including science, culture, art, and politics.
The museum’s exhibition zones, event space, video room, and shop beautifully showcase the story of this visionary king and his lasting impact on Korean history.
Gongpyeong Historical Sites Museum
This museum was established as part of the Urban Environment Maintenance Project in 2015, which excavated the alleyways and building sites of Seoul dating back to the Joseon Dynasty and the era of Japanese occupation. The museum aims to preserve and showcase these urban remains and memories in their original locations.
Through an extensive excavation project from 2014 to 2015, over a hundred building sites, alleyways, and artifacts from the early Joseon times to the Japanese occupation era were identified and restored.
At the museum, visitors can immerse themselves in the 16th-17th-century Hanyang, as it was once known, through one-tenth scale models of buildings, virtual reality experiences, and other captivating displays.
Seoul Baekje Museum
Explore the rich history of the Baekje Kingdom in Seoul. This museum is dedicated to investigating, researching, and exhibiting relics deeply connected to the ancient kingdom, such as the Earthen Fortification in Pungnap-dong, Mongchontoseong Fortress (Mongchon Earthen Fortress), Ancient Tombs in Seokchon-dong, and Ancient Tombs in Bangi-dong.
By showcasing these historical treasures, the museum highlights Seoul’s 2,000-year history and helps both local and global visitors understand the city’s cultural heritage.
Eunpyeong History & Hanok Museum
The Eunpyeong Hanok Village in the northwest of Seoul is a charming area that should be on your radar. Nestled within the hanok village area is Eunpyeong History & Hanok Museum.
This museum, opened in 2014, offers a delightful journey through the history of Eunpyeong and the charm of traditional Hanok houses. Spread across three floors and covering a total floor area of 2901 ㎡, the museum is a treasure trove of cultural heritage.
On the 1st floor, visitors can explore a toy library, education room, and a serene pond, perfect for relaxation. The 2nd floor houses a library and the Eunpyeong History Hall, where you can appreciate the fascinating cultural heritage of the region.
Head to the 3rd floor to discover the Special Exhibition Hall and Hanok Exhibition Hall, each offering unique insights into Korean history.
On the museum’s rooftop and outside, you’ll find a tile kiln place from the Unified Silla Period, providing a glimpse into the ancient craftsmanship of the region.
The Best Art Galleries & Museums in Seoul
Seoul Museum of Art
A great place for art lovers in Seoul is the Seoul Museum of Art. The museum is quite big and has a large collection of artworks on display.
The exhibitions cover a wide range of art styles, including traditional Korean art, contemporary art, and international works. When you visit, make sure to check out the changing exhibitions that feature both established and up-and-coming artists.
Don’t miss the permanent collection, which includes impressive works by famous Korean artists. Exploring the Seoul Museum of Art is a great way to experience the vibrant art scene of Seoul and enjoy the diverse range of artwork on display.
Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art
One of the most renowned art museums in Seoul, the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art focuses on both traditional and modern Korean art, so you can see different styles from different times.
When you visit, don’t miss the “Hanging Garden” by Lee Ufan, which is a unique artwork with natural elements. You should also check out the amazing masterpieces by famous artists like Park Soo-keun and Chun Kyung-ja.
National Palace Museum of Korea
Step into a world of royal grandeur at the National Palace Museum of Korea in Seoul. This museum is truly a treasure trove, packed with approximately 40,000 dazzling artifacts and exhibits. It’s a mix between art and history.
One of the most significant artifacts includes the “Uigwe” documents, which are like the VIP guest list for royal ceremonies and events. There’s also a big collection of exquisite royal garments, precious artifacts, and intricately crafted artworks that will transport you back in time.
The National Palace Museum of Korea is a must-visit for anyone who wants to soak up the regal history and experience the sheer elegance of Korean royalty.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul (MOCA)
If you enjoy modern art, don’t miss the Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul (MOCA).
It’s in the city center and offers an exciting journey through contemporary art. The museum has a variety of interesting art from Korean and international artists.
You’ll find ever-changing exhibits and unique installations that will captivate art enthusiasts and curious visitors. Experience a colorful and creative world that challenges traditional ideas about art.
Two must-see pieces in this museum are “Whispers of the Wind,” a mesmerizing kinetic sculpture by Kim Joon, and “The Canvas of Dreams,” a vibrant painting by Lee Soo-Kyoung that tells a fascinating story of imagination.
SeMA – Buk Seoul Museum of Art
Another great place for contemporary and modern Korean art is SeMA – Buk Seoul Museum of Art.
This museum is in the heart of Seoul and showcases Korea’s rich cultural heritage and dynamic contemporary art.
Don’t miss “The Flower Carrier” by Park Su-geun, a powerful painting showing the struggles of the working class. Also, see “Movement in Squares” by Kim Whanki, a beautiful abstract painting with vibrant colors. “Unity and Diversity” by Lee Bul is an impressive sculpture about human existence.
Experience “Breath” by Kimsooja, an installation that makes you feel like you’re in endless space.
SeMA – Buk Seoul Museum of Art offers a fascinating glimpse into Korea’s art and culture, making it a must-visit for art lovers and anyone curious about Korea’s creative spirit.
Seoul Arts Center
Here, you can visit two museums in one go! Admire traditional and contemporary artworks at the Hangaram Art Museum and the beauty of Korean calligraphy at the Seoul Calligraphy Art Museum.
Besides art, Seoul Arts Center is also a place for music, theater, and dance. Enjoy top-notch classical concerts in the Concert Hall and captivating plays in the Opera House and Jayu Theater.
There are also workshops, festivals, and cultural events to explore. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or just want to experience Seoul’s cultural scene, the Seoul Arts Center is a must-visit for an unforgettable artistic adventure.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)
The iconic DDP should be on everyone’s Seoul itinerary! Here, you can explore the cutting-edge world of design and innovation in Seoul. The Seoul landmark is not only an architectural marvel but also a hub of artistic and cultural experiences.
Designed by the renowned architect Zaha Hadid, DDP’s futuristic structure will mesmerize you with its fluid curves and captivating spaces.
Inside, you’ll find a treasure trove of design exhibitions, showcasing the best of Korean and international creativity. From fashion and product design to architecture and digital art, DDP celebrates a diverse range of disciplines.
One of the must-see exhibits is the Design Museum, where you can delve into the history and evolution of design.
For fashion enthusiasts, the DDP is a paradise, with its vibrant fashion market offering unique and trendy pieces from local designers.
The Design Lab also hosts workshops and seminars, providing an opportunity to engage with the creative process firsthand.
DDP’s ever-changing events and festivals make each visit a new adventure, whether it’s a fashion show, a design conference, or an art exhibition. From design enthusiasts to curious travelers, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza promises an inspiring and delightful experience!
The Seoul Museum of Craft Art
Experience the beauty of Korean craftsmanship at The Seoul Museum of Craft Art.
This museum celebrates traditional and contemporary crafts, showcasing handmade artworks like ceramics, textiles, and metalwork.
Don’t miss the “Master Craftsmen Gallery,” honoring the exceptional skills of contemporary artisans, and the “Craft Art Market,” where you can find unique souvenirs.
The museum offers a serene and enriching space to appreciate the artistry of Korean crafts, making it a must-visit for craft enthusiasts and art lovers in Seoul.
More Museums in Seoul
There are some more museums in Seoul that are worth a visit that do not fit into the history or art category.
If you’re interested in delving into the flavors and cultural significance of Korea’s most iconic dish, head to Museum Kimchikan. This unique museum is dedicated entirely to kimchi, showcasing its historical importance and culinary artistry.
Explore the various types of kimchi, from the traditional to the contemporary, and learn about the fermentation process that gives this beloved dish its distinct taste.
The museum offers interactive exhibits and informative displays that provide insights into the cultural significance of kimchi in Korean society.
From its role as a staple in Korean cuisine to its health benefits, Museum Kimchikan celebrates the rich traditions and flavors of kimchi in a fun and educational way.
Seoul Animation Center
This museum is a haven for animation enthusiasts of all ages. Step into a world of creativity and imagination as you explore the fascinating history and techniques of animation.
The center features a variety of exhibits that showcase the evolution of animation, from traditional hand-drawn animations to the cutting-edge digital techniques used in modern productions.
Visitors can also enjoy interactive displays and workshops, providing a hands-on experience in the world of animation creation.
One of the must-see exhibits is the “Behind the Scenes” display, which offers a captivating glimpse into the process of bringing animated characters to life.
Traditional Herb Medicine Museum
Traditional herb medicine has a long history and plays an important role in traditional Korean society. Explore this part of Korean culture at the Traditional Herb Medicine Museum!
As you journey through the exhibits, you’ll discover the profound role that herbs and natural remedies have played in Korean culture for centuries.
Learn about the traditional medicinal plants and their therapeutic properties, passed down through generations. The museum’s displays and informative exhibits offer insights into the various herbal remedies used to treat different ailments and promote overall well-being.
One of the must-see highlights is the “Medicinal Herb Garden,” where you can see and smell the actual herbs that are commonly used in traditional medicine.
Additionally, the museum frequently hosts workshops and demonstrations, providing visitors with a hands-on experience in traditional herb medicine preparation.
Trickeye Museum Seoul
A world of optical illusions and interactive fun are waiting for you at the Trickeye Museum Seoul.
Step into immersive 3D artworks that challenge your perception and invite you to become part of the art. The museum is filled with creative and imaginative exhibits, allowing visitors to pose, play, and take hilarious photos that look unbelievably real.
From escaping a ferocious dinosaur to riding a magic carpet, the Trickeye Museum offers a wide array of captivating scenes that transport you to different worlds. With its clever use of angles and perspectives, the museum blurs the lines between reality and illusion, providing endless opportunities for laughter and wonder.
Don’t forget to bring your camera, as you’ll want to capture these optical illusions and share the joy with others!
Seoul Children’s Museum
Since its opening on May 2nd, 2013, this museum has been the go-to destination for children’s experiences in Seoul.
Covering a vast area of 19,692 ㎡ and spanning four floors from B1 to 3F, the museum offers over 100 interactive exhibitions centered around the concept of “Happy children play happily.”
Kids can participate in hands-on educational programs, covering various fields like art, cooking, and science.
Ready to explore the best museums in Seoul?
Seoul is a treasure trove of museums that cater to all interests and passions. From art enthusiasts to history buffs, science lovers to families seeking interactive fun, the 25 best museums in Seoul offer a diverse range of experiences that leave a lasting impression.
Each museum showcases the rich cultural heritage, artistic prowess, and technological advancements of this dynamic city. Whether you’re exploring ancient history, admiring contemporary art, or immersing yourself in traditional practices, these museums provide an enriching and unforgettable journey through Seoul’s past, present, and future.
So, the next time you find yourself in Seoul, don’t miss the opportunity to discover the wonders that await at these exceptional museums. Happy exploring!
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