The Korea Herald


Mindful relaxation at Museum San

Museum San opens meditation hall, offers art-centered sanctuary

By Im Eun-byel

Published : April 18, 2019 - 15:46

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WONJU, Gangwon Province -- Located in the high mountain valleys of Gangwon Province, Museum San offers more than just art. It also invites visitors to experience its verdant natural surroundings.

A recent change to the museum may motivate more visitors to embark on the two-hour drive from central Seoul -- a new meditation hall designed by the famed Japanese architect Tadao Ando has finally opened.

Ando, who also designed the 72,172-square-meter museum, was commissioned to design the new hall to mark the museum’s fifth anniversary last year. 

The new meditation hall at Museum San (Museum San) The new meditation hall at Museum San (Museum San)

“We think that Museum San’s essence is about more than just art. It is about relaxation and finding peace. This meditation hall is an extension of that idea,” said head curator Kim Yong-min.

“The architectural philosophy -- that Museum San should be a place to rediscover the energy to live -- encouraged the building of the meditation hall,” Kim said.

The new space also falls in line with Ando’s desire to offer “energy for life” through the museum.

Located next to a stone garden, the meditation space is an extension of the architectural style that dominates the garden. From the outside, it looks like an ancient tomb, a stone mound.

The 130-square-meter space inside the mound reflects Ando’s signature style -- the smooth use of concrete and the wonders created out of light. The exposed concrete walls create a cozy atmosphere where light comes in through a thin, arch-shaped skylight.
The new meditation hall at Museum San (Museum San) The new meditation hall at Museum San (Museum San)

“The dome structure allows visitors to focus on meditation, while creating a sense of stability,” said curator Noh Eun-sil, who is in charge of activities in the new hall.

The museum offers guided meditation in the form of 30-minute audio recordings produced by a yoga and meditation center. Visitors can choose from four of these guided journeys.

On the weekends, the museum runs special sessions led by visiting yoga instructors, art curators and other professionals. Yoga classes and music performances are among these events.

Meanwhile, “Geometry, Beyond Simplicity,” an exhibition that examines how geometry can be used as a means of communication, is on view at the gallery through Aug. 25.

A total of 20 artists, including Koo Hyun-Mo and Kang Eun-hye, created geometry-inspired paintings, photos, sculptures and installation pieces.

The museum also exhibits “Looking Into Korean Art, Part V: Abstract Painting,” featuring some 30 paintings by nine Korean artists, including Kim Whan-ki and Rhee Seund-ja. The exhibition is slated to run until March 1, 2020.

For those who are more into installation art, a separate building displays four works by James Turrell, a celebrated American artist.

Admission to the gallery, the James Turrell building and the meditation hall is 38,000 won ($33.40) for adults and 28,000 won for students. Tickets for just the gallery and the meditation hall cost 28,000 won for adults. Most programs in the meditation hall are for adults.

For more information, check Museum San’s website at

By Im Eun-byel (