To celebrate Ewha Womans University’s 134th anniversary, the school is holding a special exhibition called: ‘Scenes from 19th century Joseon.’ The commemorative exhibition began on Aug. 12 and will end on Dec. 31. The exhibition displays more than 190 artifacts collaborating with the National Folk Museum of Korea, Icheon City Museum and other university museums.
The Joseon period in Korea was a time of major developments in commerce and culture. It was also the first time that people of what was known then as ‘lower class’ could enjoy the fruits of what noble people at the time could. This mixture of different economic classes created a unique culture only visible during Joseon.
Furthermore, after centuries of closed borders, Korea during the Joseon period decided to open up. This gave way to Japan, China and many Western countries to influence Korean culture at that time.
This special exhibition held by Ewha museum aims to share with the public the unique and diverse aspects of Joseon society, which at the time were unprecedented.
However, due to the current ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibition had to employ technologies to let people enjoy the exhibition not only offline, but remotely as well.
Lee Jeong-sun and Kim Joo-yeon, curators at Ewha Womans University Museum, opted to use virtual reality or VR. They said this was the first time the museum tour was made available online and garnered a positive response from the public.
“A lot of people had to refrain from going to crowded places to enjoy things due to COVID-19, but we received many comments thanking us for offering an opportunity to enjoy Joseon culture at home,” Lee said.
According to Kim, curators have to consider what could be the most effective way to deliver the story of an artifact.
“Lee and I examined the stories that were within the relics from various perspectives. We had to figure out which technology would best suit the artifacts, and this was the most exciting thing that we did as we prepared for the exhibition,” said Kim.
Kim chose VR and augmented reality (AR) technologies as she believed they could present a realistic experience of the artifacts to the public. Lee commented that AR was especially an effective tool that could bring scenes of relic painting to life for visitors at the museum. The museum also created an animated video that realized fictional scenes from popular novels written during the Joseon period.
People wanting to visit the museum offline and enjoy the new technologies could register their visit online and then enjoy the tour. But due to recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Seoul, the museum decided to offer only an online tour of the museum.
Ewha Womans University Museum also created an introductory video about the Joseon exhibition to further public interest and understanding. The curators and museum collaborated with EUBS, Ewha’s official broadcasting channel, to create the explanatory video.
“I was so excited when the museum suggested the collaboration with EUBS,” said Song Chai-eun, a member of EUBS and a sophomore from the Department of International Office Administration.“As an announcer of EUBS, I was honored to take part in the narration process of introducing the relics. I was able to learn about the artifacts of Joseon through this experience.”
Song added that through the introductory video process she saw how the exhibit visually illustrated the Joseon period in a meaningful and beautiful way.
“One of the most memorable artifacts is the Box Decorated with Painted Ox-horn Sheets,” Song said. “It looked gorgeous when I saw it in person and it delicately depicts plants and animals that symbolize good fortune, longevity and wealth.”
The exhibition is currently being held online through VR and provides the public an opportunity to explore the 19th century Joseon period, a unique time in Korea’s long and captivating history.