Ewha Womans University Museum, which first opened at Pfeiffer Hall in 1935, is renowned for its preservation of artifacts and various programs for visitors and students.
The museum moved and reopened temporarily in Busan during the Korean War to protect Korea’s relics from being taken by outsiders. As UN forces and diplomatic missions stayed in Korea due to the war, the museum also functioned as a center to promote Korean culture. During the 1960s, the museum moved from Pfeiffer Hall to a newly established, independent building. Since then, the museum has been open to students and the public for free.
Among university museums, Ewha Womans University Museum was first to open its own Art Shops and Book Store. Some of its notable relics are the “White Porcelain Jar with Grapevine Design in Underglaze Iron,” which is designated as National Treasure No. 107, along with 11 Treasures including “Celadon Jar with the Inscription of the 4th Year of Sunwha,” Treasure No. 237.
The museum covers more than a single dynasty of Korean history. From prehistoric to modern times, about 20,000 artifacts and 25,000 paintings and folkloric objects are displayed in the museum.
“Our collections, mostly donated by the university’s faculty and graduates, are well-known for their high quality compared to other private museums,” said Lee Jeong-sun, curator of the museum. “Besides purchasing and receiving donations, we are renowned for our women heritage excavation team, which is the first to be organized in Korea. With 80 years of accumulated data, we are able to open new exhibitions every semester.”
The museum’s efforts to preserve Korean historic legacy continue to this day. On Nov. 19, after waiting for a year and a half, the museum finally took over two Goryeo celadon from the Cultural Heritage Conservation Science Center. Two National Treasures completed its restoration – Jar with the Inscription “the 4th Year of Sunwha” and Stools with Openwork Design. These high value artifacts, which show the luxurious livelihood of people from the Goryeo Dynasty, are displayed in the museum’s latest exhibition, “The Goryeo Dynasty: Commemorating 1100 Years Since Its Foundation.”
The museum holds other subsidiary programs in which students and visitors can also participate. The Docent Program recruits graduates and undergraduates of the university every semester, and they are trained to offer guided tours for visitors. Also, Community Outreach Programs for the less privileged and other exhibition-related programs are provided.
“I’ve been working as a docent since last semester. After consulting with my supervisor about my career on media curating, the professor recommended me to be a docent,” said Lee Jae-eun, a senior double majoring in art history. “Whenever students listen with sparkling eyes to what I explain, the program feels worthwhile.”
Supplementary facilities are distinctive as well. A collection of 33,000 scholarly publications including books and CDs, mainly on archaeology, history, and anthropology, are in the museum’s library. Souvenirs related to Ewha or Korean history are also sold at the Art Shop. The souvenirs are designed by the museum, which is unique because most university museums have subcontractors for making souvenirs.
“It is hard to make visitors understand our heritage just by displaying artifacts,” Lee Jeong-sun said. “Adding new features, such as souvenirs and special lectures, is crucial because museums are also a cultural space where interactions are made between the visitors and history.”
Last year, about 56,000 people visited the museum. Still, docents and visitors from in and out of Ewha are actively using the museum as to better understand Korean history.
“The museum is near the front entrance, so it is quite accessible,” Lee Jeong-sun said. “We hope many Ewha students will visit our museum.”
The museum is open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except Sundays and national holidays. On the last Wednesday of each month, Culture Day, it remains open until 7:00 p.m. International students can take an English or Chinese tour. Reservations on guided tours can be arranged by filling out an application form and submitting it by e-mail or fax at least 5 days in advance. Forms can be downloaded at the museum’s website (http://museum.ewha.ac.kr).