Africa Museum, Jeju, South Korea
Korea isn’t generally known as a bastion of multiculturalism, and Jeju-do is one of the last places I’d ever expect to find pretty much anything from Africa, let alone an entire museum devoted to the continent. Yet despite this, it is the location of a Museum of African Art.
When you first see the museum it’s an impressive sight, unlike any other building in Korea. The building’s exterior is modelled on the largest mud brick building in the world, the Djenne Grand Mosque in Mali. It’s a visually interesting building, and thankfully the inside lives up to its promise.
The breadth of the collection in the museum is quite impressive, representing art from many different parts of black Africa. The first floor of the museum is for temporary artistic and photographic exhibitions, while the second floor is devoted to the museum’s permanent collection. The current photographic exhibition is of the Dogon tribe from Mali. The large photos show various people in their traditional dress and ceremonial costumes and are really cool.
The permanent collection features a variety of wooden, stone, clay, and metal statues, various tools and weapons, and a large number of masks, including some really awesome ones from the Guro people of Côte d’Ivoire. The permanent exhibition also features a number of dioramas with mannequins of different African tribes. While some of these can be puzzling, the models also show you the types of accommodation and clothing used by some African people.
The third floor is devoted to the gift shop, which is filled with nice, expensive things, cheap tack, and things with nothing to do with Africa at all (numerous Mexico related items, plush dogs, and so forth).
The one major downside of the museum is the lack of information available. While the exhibits have extensive information in Korean, the English information is generally limited to what part of Africa the piece is from (and even this seems to be translated from Korean as spellings differ from piece to piece). Still, for anyone with a limited knowledge of Africa the information is useful.
If you can, try to attend one of the live performances by musicians from Senegal (and let us know how it is! We were unable to attend due to time restraints). These happen in the basement auditorium at 11:30am, 2:30pm and 5:30pm daily (excluding Mondays).
The Museum is open 9am to 7pm until June, while in July and August it’s open until 10pm. It’s 6,000 won for adults, 4,500 won with your alien card.
The museum is located near the International Convention Centre (ICC). The airport limosine bus will get you to the ICC as will other local bus services. It’s then a short walk to the museum. Taxi is, of course, also an option.
For further information Tourist Information can help. Telephone: 064 1330.