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National Museum of Korea Reopens with Extensive Exhibitions, Including Buddhist Treasures

Media enjoy a pre-opening press conference. From

The National Museum of Korea is scheduled to reopen tomorrow with its largest-ever exhibition of national treasures. One of the exhibition’s three sections is devoted to artifacts related to Buddhism. Such treasures account for more than half of Korea’s state-designated treasures and national treasures. The exhibition, titled “The New National Treasures of Korea,” will run until 27 September.

The announcement coincides with Korea’s Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters easing of restrictions for public facilities in and around Seoul. National theaters and troupes will also resume performances.

The National Museum of Korea exhibition is divided into three sections: Documenting History, Flourishing Art, and Embodying Wishes. The first section will focus on documentary heritage items and includes Samguksagi (The History of the Three Kingdoms), a book on Korean history that dates from 1145. The second section looks into traditional perspectives on beauty, including artwork dedicated to the everyday lives of people in the Joseon period (1392–1897). The third section focuses on Buddhism.

The artifacts on display will include items that were designated as treasures from 2017–19. In total there are 196 items on display, including structures and immovable artifacts that will be presented through video clips. Online streaming of the exhibition begins today.

“This summer exhibition is the largest-ever public show of treasures and national treasures,” the museum’s director-general, Bae Ki-dong, said during a press conference on Monday. (The Korean Herald)

The exhibition draws from items held by a variety of owners, some of which will not be available for the duration of the exhibition, leading Bae to recommend that visitors come more than once during the exhibition period to see all of the works.

Wooden seated Avalokiteshvara statue from Buram-sa, a temple in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province.

“I especially want to express my gratitude toward the Kansong Art Museum and the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism [for their cooperation],” said the head of the Cultural Heritage Administration, Chung Jae-suk. (The Korean Herald)

Nine Buddhist temples affiliated with the Jogye Order, South Korea’s largest Buddhist monastic order, contributed works for the exhibition.


In order to comply with Health Ministry rules on social distancing, the museum will limit visitors to 200 people every two hours, representing approximately 30 per cent of capacity. All visitors must make advance online reservations and wear a face mask before entering the exhibition hall. The admission fee will be ₩5,000 (US$4.20). 

According to 2015 census data, most people in South Korea hold no religious affiliation—56.1 per cent. Christians make up the largest religious group in the country with 27.6 per cent, and Buddhists account for 15.5 per cent of the population.

See more

National Museum of Korea to reopen with largest exhibition of state-designated treasures (The Korean Herald)
Reopening of cultural facilities and museums (The Korea Times)
S. Korean PM proposes making August 17 temporary nat’l holiday (Arirang)

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