Monday, June 8, 2015

Museum SAN ......

Korea is and always has been, a country full of surprises. 

Recently I was told by a Hanji friend about a Paper  Museum called Museum SAN (Space Art & Nature) and the indication was that it's a must see for anyone who is visiting Korea and loves paper. 'San' also means mountain in Korean so it has a double edged meaning.
                      

 It's a bit of a trek to get to from Seoul because first you need to take a 1 1/2 hr train ride  to Wonju,  a city renown in its own right for the quality of it's Hanji, then it's a 17 km taxi ride out to Oak Valley. This place is well known amongst locals as a ski resort during the winter months and a lovely mountain retreat during the summer. We had a seamless trip on the very efficient Korea railway system and taxi services, and soon arrived with great expectations of this place.

 I've visited several Hanji museums in this country  and they've been quite interesting for someone who can see past the lack and quality of the presentation spaces but this wasn't  like anything I'd ever seen here in Korea before. 

Museum SAN is nestled into a beautiful natural setting high up on a mountainside and  blends seamlessly into its natural surroundings.  


The building was  designed by Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect who is quoted as saying,  “I wanted to create a garden museum in the sky, a dreamlike museum like no other.” Ando was assisted in the design by Mrs Lee, an advisor to the Hansol Group that commissioned the building of the museum and she said, “Healing is a key word in Korean society and we consider a museum where you can enjoy nature and art to be a healing place.” This place didn't disappoint.

The surroundings are breathtaking, the building magnificent and the museum itself was world class.  It was easy to stay engrossed in the peaceful  surroundings outside but then as I walked inside through the various galleries dedicated to Hanji and its many uses I was really excited. The dimly lit displays were informative, with enough explanations in English and enough variety in their formats to keep the walk-through experience captivating. 

I then came across what I'd been searching a long time for, a display of old Hanji items.  I'd seen one piece in a museum many years ago here in Korea and knew that it was about 100 years old but I expected that there had to be many more articles  as the craft has been in existence for generations and the materials generally don't disintegrate  over time.

 Here are a few of the pieces I found.

Hanji box holding pieces of felt

Small box with cut out designs in orange and green

A thread box

Patterned, divided box - multicolored

Hexagonal box with a lid  using traditional cutout designs

Small square box in yellow, red and green with Korean symbol
on the sides and Chrysanthemum flower pattern on the top

Filing system using Hanji paper

A mythical animal made out of Hanji

There were then several galleries of contemporary art work pieces using Hanji.  They were fantastic but no photos were allowed so I can't share any of my own with you but here are a few from their Facebook site that gives you an overview of what it's like. I understand that many of the pieces are by famous Korean artists.


A very worthwhile visit to an amazing place in an amazing setting that didn't disappoint. Thank you Aline for your suggestion of visiting Museum SAN and if you're ever in South Korea it's well worth the trip and taking a look.

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