Palace museum’s Joseon-era kings get upgrade

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Palace museum’s Joseon-era kings get upgrade


At the renovated National Palace Museum of Korea, visitors can get a glimpse into the inside of Seonwonjeon in Changdeok Palace where ancestral portraits are kept. Provided by the museum

Where do you go in Korea if you want to see a real royal throne, an official portrait of a king, a queen’s palanquin and a pot containing a king’s placenta and umbilical cord?

All are housed together at the National Palace Museum of Korea.

Among many state-run museums in Seoul, the palace museum - located at the southwestern corner inside the Gyeongbok Palace grounds in downtown Seoul - is dedicated solely to the royal culture of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

The museum, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, recently renovated its “Kings of the Joseon Dynasty” gallery on the second floor to improve visitors’ experience. The collection includes two National Treasures and 19 Treasures.

“As the first stage of our 10th anniversary project, we have worked on renovating and improving the ‘Kings of the Joseon Dynasty’ gallery since last October,” said No Myeong-gu of the museum’s exhibition and publicity division.


The red-lacquered royal throne decorated with dragons painted in gold. Behind it is the famous depiction of the sun, moon and five peaks, which symbolizes eternity. Provided by the museum

Besides replacing old lights and glass cases, officials said, they also expanded on the stories told by the gallery.

The first part of the renovated gallery is dedicated to the dignity and life of the kings.

This is where visitors can see one of the most important objects at the museum: the king’s red-lacquered throne decorated with golden dragons. Behind the throne is the famous Joseon-era painting of the sun, moon and five peaks, which symbolizes eternity.


The recreation of the inside of the Gyujanggak, the royal library of the Joseon Dynasty founded in 1776. Provided by the museum

Officials also recreated Changdeok Palace’s Seonwonjeon shrine, where ancestral portraits are kept. The actual building in Changdeok Palace can only be viewed from the outside.

The second renovated part of the museum deals with records and succession in the dynasty. To satisfy today’s tech-savvy visitors, the museum made 3-D recreations of intricate royal drawings showing details of palace life.

The last part is dedicated to the politics of the era and features a recreation of another royal structure. Officials rebuilt the inside of the Gyujanggak (or Kyujanggak), the royal library of the Joseon Dynasty founded in 1776.

Like Seonwonjeon, the inside of the library at Changdeok Palace is off limits to visitors. Joseon was a state ruled by literati, and rulers often resorted to research to justify their power. In that sense, the library was not totally free from politics.

The renovated gallery opened to the public on Feb. 10 and further updates will be made in other galleries at the museum through 2018.


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