Museum SAN is a unique museum that has indoor galleries and also outdoor displays that utilize its beautiful surrounding nature. This museum in Wonju city was named one of the 100 Must-Visit Tourist Spots in Korea for the third year in a row by the Korea Tourism Organization last year.
From my personal experience, having two times visiting the place, my favorite parts of the museum are the 3 gardens, at which you should spend most time (and take boatload of pictures!).
The 3 gardens are:
1. Flower Garden
The first garden is called “Flower Garden” and that was supposed to be a field of China Pink flower. However, summer was not the blooming season so it was just a plain dry green field. I just took one picture with the plant wall and skipped ahead to the end of the garden, where the famous archway was.
I did, however, vistited this museum last year in the fall season. It was much prettier because the pink flower was blooming, and this wall of plant was in a different color because it was the fall. I got all shades of the leaves and it was stunning. If you are interested to see the pictures and my first impression of the museum, check out this Instagram posts of mine (@tizzy):
If you walk pass the park, you will reach the end of the garden and find an enterance of the water garden, which is a big red archway. This spot is always crowded as it is an enterance and everybody wants to take picture under it. Last year was my worst luck, as it was too crowded that I didn’t manage to take any picture without people photobombing my shot. But this year I got lucky. It was reasonably empty so I can take the picture from several angle. My tip is, don’t get the touristy shot righ under it, try different angle that not everybody has the different shot as yours!
The red archway is an outdoor sculpture designed by Alexander Liberman and, serving as the entrance to the water garden and the main building, it is actually the most iconic piece of the museum.
2. Water Garden
This is the best part of the museum! The main building, where the galleries are, are surrounded by decorative pools as a part of the art of the museum.
The calm and clear surface of the water creates a mesmerizing display reflecting the surroundings, and the building looks as if it’s floating on the water.
Honestly, the water pools works really well as a reflector. When the air is calm (no wind), it will reflect the view perfectly, and then when the wind blows, it doesn’t mean it became imperfect, it just became more beautiful in a different way!
The building is also a good idea to enjoy the Water garden from above. I took so many nice picture from this spot, but it was actually quite hard to find because the building was designe as sort of a maze.
If you have time, you defeinitely want to enjoy the gallery inside part of the main building too. Not only paintings, you can also enjoy some other form of arts too such as paper art, retro tree, and unique furnitures. But I must warn you, spare some downtime because you might want to just follow the maze path of this building. Me and my friend was rushing here and there because we must keep up with the meditation schedule that we booked, and we ended up getting lost, LOL. So trust me, you want to just enjoy everything you came accross there, slowly.
If you go to the other side of the main building, you will come out to the last garden of the museum, the Stone Garden.
3. Stone Garden
This last garden that really worth the mention here is called the Stone Garden, which consists of mounds inspired by ancient Korean royal tombs. The curved stroll through the stone mounds really creates a peaceful-looking art.
If you go to your right instead of walking through the path, bellow the stairs, you will find a bigger mound with a dome interior for the meditation program. Remember to book a schedule at the welcome center before coming down there. I was lucky to have a chance to experience the meditation, and I could say I was so relaxed and able to calm my tense nerves.
Experience healing through self-discovery meditation to rediscover the energy to live. Done under the peaceful, simple, geometrical dome.
Meditation starts from listening to the gentle singing bowl play while breathing in the fragrance of the aroma oil that leader passed on.
When finished, warm hibiscus tea with a sour flavor is served. The dome itself is surrounded by a beautiful scenery and the lively sound from nature fills up the space. This is to open up the senses before meditation and refresh the relaxed mind after meditation.
Finally, if you go through the curved path of the garden, you will find the gallery of James Turrell’s artworks, which is famous for working with the beauty of light and the sense of infinite space. Sadly, I did not get a chance to enjoy the gallery due to the meditation schedule, hopefully I can visit someday and give you a full review of it.
Museum SAN: 260 Okeubaelli 2-gil, Jijeong-myeon, Wonju-si, Gangwon-do
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