Museum treasures everyday items

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Museum treasures everyday items

The Seoul Museum of History yesterday said that it is collecting personal belongings from Seoul citizens for an exhibition to illustrate the history of modern life in the capital.

The museum is preparing to display personal items from the past that were donated by ordinary people, such as old driver’s licenses, lottery tickets and a cap made by the government to publicize the Saemaul movement in 1970s.

And it is still accepting donations of choice items of nostalgia. Its slogan for the campaign is: “Before you throw it away, please think again.”

“Since 2007, we have collected about 2,500 pieces,” said An Jin-yong, a curator at the museum, in a telephone interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily. “With those pieces, we have held some exhibitions, and we are still receiving more donations.

“We think anything around us could be historical as time passes by,” An added. “That’s the reason we are collecting daily necessities or personal belongings of people: to record life in the past in Seoul.”

In 1978, the National Tax Service launched a campaign to urge people to get receipts at stores or restaurants to crack down on tax evasion. When people collected 15 receipts and submitted them to the agency, it gave them a housing lottery ticket.

“At the time, winning a house in a lottery was the dream of people in Seoul,” An said. “And the agency, which was trying to collect taxes more efficiently, came up with a brilliant idea.”

A Seoul resident who kept the lottery ticket as a momento donated it, and now the humble lottery ticket is a piece of history.

A donation of a Seoul citizenship card issued in 1954 was also significant. The citizenship card, which the city government stopped issuing in 1962, lists the bearer’s hometown, workplace and position, and even political party or civic group affiliation.

“The government issued the citizenship card until 1962, when the national ID card was brought out,” An said. “The purpose of creating the citizenship card was to oust pro-Communist people or North Korean spies in the 1960s in Seoul. If one didn’t have a card, it meant he or she was related to the North.”

A baseball cap made by the central government in 1988 to celebrate Korea’s hosting of the Olympics was also donated.

All donated items will be kept by the museum and displayed in an upcoming exhibition.

To donate an item, visit the Web site of the museum,, or call (02) 724-0274.

By Kim Hee-jin []
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