Korea at the Victoria and Albert Museum: The Samsung Gallery 2012

We’re always on the look out for the latest Korean exhibition to be going on around London, but what about those exhibitions that are there permanently? Have you found yourselves, like us, taking them for granted? As there’s no time limit on how long they’re there for, we’ve been a little complacent in getting round to visiting them. But no longer! We took a trip to the beautiful Victoria and Albert Museum in London to see what their Korean collection is like.

V&A samsung London Korea Museum 1

Although Room 47g is called a ‘gallery’, it’s really more of a corridor in the Asia area. If you’re not looking for it specifically, you might easily miss it as it’s a bit off the ‘main path’ in the museum. So if you’re at the museum to find the Samsung Gallery, make sure you take a look at the map, so you don’t wonder round and go past it.The collection itself is quite small, especially when you compare it, for example, to the collection they have of Chinese objects. It would have also been nice if there was an actual room dedicated to the collection, rather than a corridor that looks like it’s used for getting from A to B. Saying that, the objects within the collection are varied and very interesting to look at, however, they’re not too varied in the eras they come from (the Chosun Dynasty being the time where most of the collection is from).One of the really useful things in this gallery is the interactive screen, where you can learn about a few different aspects of Korean history and culture and the objects. Each section is about 2/3 minutes, so if you’re keen, you can get through them all pretty quickly.

V&A samsung London Korea Museum 2

There’s a nice range of objects to look at, though only two examples of Korean style clothes! And these examples are quite modern ones at that, so if you were hoping for a large array of traditional dress or hanboks, you’ll be a bit disappointed. However, the clothes that are there are very unique in themselves.
V&A samsung London Korea Museum 3
There’s also a really lovely collection of ceramics and pottery that’s sure to catch your attention.
And don’t forget to look at the amazing onggi jars, used to store foods like kimchi in them.
V&A samsung London Korea Museum 6
There are some beautiful examples of lacquer boxes in the gallery.
V&A samsung London Korea Museum 7
A few examples of textile banners and screens can be seen also.
Lee Man Bong, who created the scroll above, was designated an ‘Important Intangible Cultural Property’!!
   Like the more modern clothes, there are other modern examples in the form of ceramics.
V&A samsung London Korea Museum 12
Although the area given for the collection of Korean objects may be pretty small, what’s in the collection is all very interesting and beautiful to look at. Ideally, it would be nice to see more on display, particularly in the way of traditional dress, but understandably there are limitations of how much they can fit in the space available. The information provided is very useful, and the interactive screen is a great touch that gives you some extra background to the culture and use of the objects. There is quite a large range of resources on the V&A website, including more information about the objects and some interesting videos on different aspects of Korean culture.

V&A samsung London Korea Museum 13

Next time you’re in the area, drop by and take a look at room 47g – it won’t take too much of your time, but will give you a chance to look at some beautiful objects and learn some interesting facts!


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