The Museum of Korea in Seoul has the largest collection of Korean art and antiquities that includes over 220,000 historical and cultural artifacts. It is one of the top-visited art museums in the world with over 2.7 million visitors annually and has the highest attendance for any attraction in all of Asia. Its collection consists of cultural artifacts, relics, paintings, manuscripts, sculpture, decorative arts, and historic buildings. Viewing the museum's numerous curatorial departments and over 13,000 displayed art forms in a single visit is almost impossible. Based on the immense size of the collection, first-time visitors to the Museum of Korea may consider taking a Highlights Tour of the museum. These curator-led tours take about one hour and are a great way to introduce yourself to the museum's collection.
Here are five must-see sights of that you'll most likely be viewing:
1. Gold Crown from Cheonmachong - This 5th century solid gold crown was excavated from a tomb in the North Gyeongju province. It was used for royal ceremonies presumably by a female emperor and weighs more than one kilogram. This is the largest known solid gold crown in existence and suggests a connection of 5th century Korean civilization with the Eurasian nomadic tribes of Central Asia, Mongolia, and Eastern Europe.
2. Bell of King Seongdeok - A massive bronze bell the stands over 10 feet tall, weighs over 18 tons, and is 11 to 25 centimeters thick. The creation of this bell was ordained by King Gyeongdeok in 765 A.D. to honor his father, King Seongdeok. When rung, it is said to have been heard from 40 miles away on a clear day. This enormous bell is a fine example of the bronze casting skill in 8th century Korea.
3. Geumdong Mireuk Bosal Bangasang - A 6th century gilt-bronze statue of Buddha Maitreya seated in a meditative pose. It is one of the most famous and highly regarded Korean Buddhist sculptures. The entire statue is less than 1cm in thickness, demonstrating the fine skill of bronze casting during this time.
4. Gyeongcheonsa Pagoda - A 14th century marble pagoda stands that stands over 40 feet in height with ten separate levels. This pagoda is one of the finest examples of Korean stone work with incredible detail that required an enormous skill to create. The amazing craftmanship that went into this pagoda is evident in the illusion that this marble pagoda exhibits the same texture of wood.
5. Cheonmachong Heavenly Horse Painting - A famous 5th century painting of a white horse on a birch bark horse-saddle flap or mud-guard. The horse, a Korean Pegasus, has eight legs and is depicted with wings on its feet.This painting was recovered from the tomb of a king during the fifth century Silla Kingdom and indicates the importance of the horse culture during this time period.