In Korea, there is a word “moon-hwa-seng-hwahl” that means cultured living. It includes visiting theatres, galleries, historic sites, exhibitions, sports, performances, and even flea markets. While it’s easy to catch up with friends and go see a movie, going to exhibits and galleries always feels a bit trickier. They aren’t advertised as much as movies are, so it’s easy to forget they exist until you’re traveling or your art 101 professor sends you. I didn’t pay much attention to them until a friend invited me a few times to go with her. Since then, I’ve found that most exhibits last for 3-4 months and the websites usually feature upcoming exhibits far in advance. So it’s easy to enjoy some cultured living by checking the websites of local museums and galleries 3-4 times a year. Basically, check back when the seasons change!
Right now the Seoul Arts Center is featuring an exhibit from The British Museum of the Human Image. This is a fantastic opportunity as it’s rather expensive to travel to London, and there is no possible way of seeing everything inside the British Museum unless you plan to do nothing but look through the museum for a few days straight. The handful of marble statues were marvelous to see and there were a surprising number of artifacts from Africa other than Egypt.
Of course, looking at historical artifacts isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so not everyone will want to go. The great thing about exhibits though is that it’s entirely easy to go alone, and there are many people who do so. People are busy looking at the paintings, not worried about whether you’re alone or with a friend. I found over time that it’s actually nicer to see exhibits alone as everyone views artifacts and paintings at their own pace. I personally like to jot down any impressions I have in my notebook, and it was great having the opportunity to make some sketches of genuine marble statues rather than the fake imitations they utilize in art courses.
If you need to travel a bit in order to reach a gallery or museum, it might be a good opportunity to see more than one exhibit while you’re there. I have to travel around an hour and a half to get to the nearest gallery in Seoul, so I decided to see two while I was there. The best way to space things out is to have a meal in between. Viewing exhibits involves a bit of walking so it’s nice to get something to eat afterwards!
Usually I’ll leave the building to find something to eat, but it’s been -16°C as of late so I tried the lasagna of a restaurant inside the gallery. It was surprisingly good and was hearty enough to re-energize me for the next exhibit.
If you’re not so much interested in historical artifacts, you could try an art exhibit instead. I have three tips when it comes to enjoying art exhibits:
#1. Check the docent/tour times as the guide will point out the highlights and explain the significance of important art works. They usually have some fun facts that aren’t written in the description that make the whole experience enjoyable as well.
#2. Borrow the audio guide or see if there is one available as an app. They’re usually not too expensive and can provide insight into some of the more obscure pieces in the exhibit.
#3. Get a copy of The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich. I’ve only read 6 chapters so far but it’s made a vast difference in the way I experience art and historical artifacts. The chapters are short and sweet but incredibly insightful and just as informative as a college course on art. I highly recommend it to anyone that would like to have a more enjoyable experience at museums and galleries, and especially to anyone who is planning to travel to Europe.
Your turn ♥ When’s the last time you went to an exhibit? How often do you usually go to see an exhibit?