Wednesday, November 21, 2012

[Tour/Press Article] Keimyung University Museums

Museums of Keimyung University

Exploring a University Campus may not be the first thing that comes to mind for a spare afternoon but Daegu's Keimyung University Campus is an interesting architectural collection with museums and an outdoor folk village.

The campus is home to two museums, one of which is closed weekends. I was waiting a long time for a spare weekday to go so that I could visit both museums.

The first building you will see at the southeast corner by the metro stop is the performing arts centre. Here they have hosted major productions like Les Miserables, Mamma Mia, and The Three Muskateers when these shows tour in Daegu. 

Wondering around the campus I found a large folk village towards the northwest side. This is similar to the outdoor folk villages you see in places like Andong or Suwon so was strange to be in the middle of a large urban campus.

There are two collections of houses. The first set is made from dark timber and has a raised temple style lookout balcony at the entrance. The architecture and layout is also similar to temples except the buildings are not painted.

A side staircase will lead you to the second set of houses to the left of the first set. This is more traditional rural style and has displays of implements for traditional life.

Like most folk villages they also allow you to participate in traditional crafts as well as a tea drinking ceremony. Its best to check their website for the best time to visit as there are scheduled days/times for these events.

Back outside in front of the village is a small garden and pond with a raised terrace overlooking. This has also been used as a site for shooting several Korean dramas.  

Following the signs east through the campus I was trying to find one of the museums. I made it to one of the buildings that matched the photo on the tourist brochure I had. I asked inside if this was where the museum was.

The lady wasn’t sure and had to ask in the admin office who directed us to the 2nd floor. Here inside the library was the Relics Exhibition. Unfortunately it was closed this week and the lady told me I'd have to come back next week.

Of the two museums on campus this was the one that was closed weekends and weekdays after 4pm and why I made a special weekday trip. It seems unlikely I'll have an opportunity to come here again. They have a website, though it’s all in Korean and I can’t find a reference or photos of the relics exhibition:

Wandering back I tried to find the larger main museum. I had in fact passed it as it wasn’t clearly marked. The Hengso Museum is housed in its own building with landscaped grounds. 

The two story interior houses a photo exhibit on the ground floor. There are illustrations of Korean life at the start of photography. Interesting are many early photos of Seoul showing it to be mostly rural, traditional, and undeveloped.

The grand staircase then leads you to a second floor with a wraparound exhibit in various stages. It begins with the history of the university, its founding in the 1950s, and various university awards.

Then begins the archeological section with various excavation finds. Collections range from clay pots, daggers and spear heads, and a duck shaped pot.

The next exhibition room has bronze and copper ware. This is a more militaristic theme as we have battle armament along with the large elaborate egg shaped carving which was the symbol of the Baekje Dynasty. 

There is then a buddhist collection of tiny buddha carvings along with giant buddha heads. 

This leads next to the ceramics collection where there is beautifully decorated porcelain, leading finally to the handcrafts section.

The Hengso Museum is open everyday except Sundays and Public Holidays. It was quite impressive, comparable to National Museums in other cities so more than made up for the first museum that was closed in the university library. They also have their own website at:

I was then debating if I wanted to hike to the top of the hill at the west side of the campus where there is a large chapel. Since I probably wasn’t going to come here again I decided to give it a look. 

After a steep climb you are rewarded with another unique architectural jewel housing an elaborate chapel. The interior has vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows. Inside the main dome is more stained glass. 

There is a giant organ at the front which would be interesting to hear playing during sunday service. The chapel also provides for stunning views looking down on the campus and cityscape.

The university has some other interesting architecture particularly a Dutch style turret on top of one of the other larger buildings. It was an interesting way to spend an afternoon despite one of the museums being closed. Most universities in Daegu tend to have a free museum on campus, although I'm not sure if they are specific to fields of studies offered.  

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