When was the last time you visited a museum to experience cultural heritage? Most people often visit exhibitions of contemporary artists, but they don't tend to go to museums that display cultural assets. Here is an interesting exhibition that we should pay attention to. The National Museum of Korea is introducing several works depicting rabbits under the theme of "Finding Rabbits at the Museum" to mark 2023, the Year of the Black Rabbit. SMT visited the museum to find rabbits hidden throughout the exhibition hall. Would you like to be fascinated by the works of our ancestors with SMT?
The prelude to a journey to find the rabbits
In Korea, the name of the year is determined by the "sexagenary cycle," and this year is the Year of the Black Rabbit. Every year, one of the twelve animals, including cows, tigers, snakes, monkeys, and rabbits, represents the year. These animals also often appear in the works of our ancestors. Cute rabbits can also be found throughout our cultural heritage. It is said that this embodies the wishes of ancestors who tried to repel bad energy and bring good energy. The National Museum of Korea is introducing 10 exhibits related to rabbits in the permanent exhibition hall. The exhibition will be held until April 23, 2023, with the remaining five works, except for the five paintings, on display in the permanent exhibition hall after that.
The National Museum of Korea, where this theme exhibition is being held, is close to Sookmyung Women's University. There are two main ways to get to the museum from SMWU. If you want to take a bus, take 400 from the main gate of SMWU and get off at the "National Museum Yongsan Family Park" stop after about 25 minutes. If you want to take the subway, you first have to walk about 15 minutes to SMWU Station. After that, take the subway bound for Oido or Sadang on Line 4 for three stations and get off at Ichon Station. If you then enter by walking past the large pond, you will find the exhibition hall. This exhibition has the advantage of being free of charge without reservation or separate admission procedures.
Discover the value of cultural heritage
The permanent exhibition hall of the National Museum of Korea has a total of three floors. Cultural heritage pieces from prehistoric times to the period of the Empire of Korea are exhibited on the first floor, with mainly paintings and donated works on the second floor. The relics found in Asia such as Mesopotamia, sculptures, and crafts are displayed on the third floor. There are three works with rabbits on the first floor, five on the second floor, and two on the third floor. However, it is difficult to find the rabbits without a separate guide because the museum is so spacious and the works are mixed in with numerous other works. Therefore, this SMT reporter looked for all 10 relics with rabbits by referring to information about the display case number and the exhibition guide on the website. This reporter would like to introduce three works among them.
At <Bronze Mirror with Figures and a Pavilion in a Landscape> displayed in Goryeo Room 1 on the first floor, you can find the figure of a rabbit pounding a mill with a tree and a house pattern. Since ancient times, rabbits have been considered mystical creatures that make the elixir of life by grinding it with a mortar and pestle under the moon. It seems to express the world where the gods live through a rabbit that pounds the mill. At <A Rabbit Gazing at the Round Moon> displayed in the painting room on the second floor, a rabbit perking up its ears is gazing at a round moon in the sky. Light and shade are added to the body of the rabbit, clearly showing the texture of its coat. In the lower left corner of the painting, there is some text about rabbits and the moon, which gives us a glimpse of ancient people's perception of rabbits. Lastly, <Incense Burner, Celadon with Openwork Design> on the third floor is a designated national treasure. It allows viewers to appreciate the remarkable artistry of Goryeo celadon. This piece was made by employing all the celadon decorative techniques in use at the time including incising, relief carving, inlaying, attaching, and modeling. It is comprised of a globular lid decorated with openwork, a lotus blossom-shaped body, and a pedestal. The three rabbits enhance this work. In addition to these three works, rabbits are expressed in various ways such as <A Rabbit Caught by a Hawk> and Japanese Imari style's <Dish with Rabbit Design>.
The National Museum of Korea is well equipped with convenient facilities and exhibits many cultural heritage pieces. The English explanations are also well prepared, which can help foreigners understand the works. Since there are many people on weekends, weekday visits are recommended if you want to focus on the work. In addition to the works expressing rabbits, this reporter hopes you will capture the values of various cultural heritage artworks displayed at the museum. You can't help but be surprised by the greatness of the ancestors who made them, the refinedness and nobility of their works