Bringing music closer,
Taking understanding deeper,
Making recreation more fun
Launched in 1995, the Gugak Museum is the only museum in Korea specializing in gugak , orean traditional music. It has served as a primary educational center for Koreans as well as visitors from overseas. We are proud to present the redesign of our permanent exhibition which has reinforced its role as a “listening” exhibit, demonstrating the museum’s specialized focus as a music museum. It provides the opportunity to learn about and enjoy various artifacts related to Korean traditional music, and to feel and experience the instruments and the beautiful sounds they produce.
- Museum information
- Open : 10AM - 6PM Closed on Mondays and January 1st Free admission Media Guide : Media Guides are available for rent at the museum help desk
- Music Listening
- 10:00, 14:00, 16:00 (10min.) Space may be limited, depending on number of visitors to the museum
- Viewing Order
- Korean Traditional Music Courtyar → Sounds of Nature and Life → Musical Instruments → Musical Scores and Historical Documents → Audio-Visual Archive → Master Artists → Interactive Exhibits
- Gugak Museum exhibits rotate
Gallery Information 1F
Gallery Information 2F
- PERMANENT EXHIBITION
- GUGAK MUSEUM
Korean Traditional Music Courtyard
- Jeonjeong(殿庭), the courtyard of the royal palace, was the venue for prestigious formal gatherings. When the event required music, an orchestra appropriate to the dignity of the occasion was assembled. Thus, the courtyard was a special place where the courtesy of the royal palace balanced with music symbolizing the peaceful encounter of Ye(禮), the order of the cosmos, and Ak(樂), the harmony of the universe. The large instruments used for the court ceremonies are now housed in this gallery. You can enjoy the unique tone color of each instrument that is usually obscured by the sound of the orchestra and shrouded in the procedure of the ceremonies. As experiencing sound is the foremost aim of the exhibition, we have prepared the best performance video footage using the highest quality audio-visual equipment. You can enjoy the unique tone color of each instrument that is usually obscured by the sound of the orchestra and shrouded in the procedure of the ceremonies. You may enjoy music pieces such as Yeongsanhoesang , Jongmyojeryeak , and Namdo Sinawi performed by the musicians of the National Gugak Center on a 4K Ultra High Definition (3840x2160) screen with fourteen 13.1-channel speakers. Before exploring other aspects of music culture, including instruments, music scores, and musicians, we open the door to this “listening” exhibition by meeting with the beauty of the music itself.
Sounds of Nature and Life
- "Sound, along with light, is the longest history and tremor." If music is understood as a meaningful vibration and movement passing through people´s hearts, this special exhibition space is for you to experience the primordial sound that had existed on the Korean peninsula long before music bearing the sensibility of Koreans appeared. Sounds of nature and life, such as rain, wind, waves, ears of rice, green barley, grasshoppers, and cicadas, are the origin of music in this land. Common, yet unique sounds capturing the lives and wishes of the Korean people - fulling cloth, grinding mung beans, and burning wood - are the materials for the music of the land. As this room is designed for you to focus solely on sound itself, we encourage you to apply your imagination in developing the sound into song and instrumental music, and even bodily movement.
- Musical instruments are the vessels that contain the music. Each region and nation has created or transformed individual instruments appropriate for their own music. In that sense, therefore, "an instrument of a place" is also "the music of a place." Korean instruments have also existed in the form most suitable for the music of the land. Most music introduced from foreign countries into this traditional society was Koreanized by adapting it to local aesthetic values. Imported foreign instruments were also modified and improved to enable the use of playing techniques appropriate for Korean music. Korean instruments can be categorized into several different groups based on various criteria, such as musical affiliation, component materials, principle of sound production, and playing method. The instruments exhibited here are classified as wind, string, or percussion instruments. On display in this exhibit are not only the instruments of the present day, but also ancient instruments excavated from archaeological sites. Visitors can experience both their tangible materials and their intangible sound, and hear the connection between the music and the instrument.
Musical Scores and Historical Documents
- A musical score is a tool for music creation, preservation, and reproduction. Because music - an auditory art - is visualized in music scores, notational systems have been developed in various forms appropriate to and advantageous for each primary purpose. The scores of Korean traditional music are largely divided into two types: government-compiled scores and private scores. Government-compiled scores were published by the state and contain the music of the royal court rites. Private scores were written by individual musicians and record music of the people outside the palace. Notation method, publication date, style of music, musical features, and even the writer’s notes provide information on the historical changes in music over time, involving aspects such as the contemporary musical standpoint, changes and variation in pieces, and technical alterations. Records of the past, including musical scores, dance scores, musical treatises, and paintings bring you closer to the music you are listening to now.
- Records, especially of music, have taken a new turn since the invention of recording technologies. The sound of the "here and now" could thereby be recorded and stored. "Archiving" involves keeping recorded materials, storage of collected data, and the digitization of data. The Gugak Archive - established in 2007 at the National Gugak Center - collects, preserves, and utilizes not only audio-visual recordings of traditional music, dance, and performances, but also printed materials related to gugak produced in Korea and abroad. You can enjoy representative stage works of the National Gugak Center, and the rare and precious audio-visual material in this gallery selected from among more than 390,000 items stored in the Center as of the end of 2018. The items on display may be diversified and possibly expanded in the future as new collections are added to the Gugak Archive. Visitors can not only discover the physical recording media, such as cylinders, standard play (SP) records, and 8mm slide films, but also encounter the bygone "here and now" embodied in pictures, sound sources, and videos through these historical records.
- The twentieth century was a period of great difficulty from the perspective of the transmission of traditional arts. It experienced the crisis of nearly breaking with tradition, yet could not accept foreign music independently either. Even in those days, some masters kept the traditional alive. Their performances in their heydays were preserved in audio-visual format, and the instruments and keepsakes that accompanied their hard times have been handed down to us today. Some have faded, but the sounds are still alive. The exhibit here highlights musicians born before the 1940s who established names for themselves in court music and folk music by forming their own schools and musical families. Their keepsakes, such as instruments, albums, scores, and photographs, donated or deposited by the musicians' families and disciples, are available to the public. From the traces left behind by these earlier artists, we may be able to find our future direction in traditional arts for a new era.
- "How does pitch change according to the thickness, length, and tension of an object? Do an instrument's materials affect its tone color?" Are you curious? We explain how the sounds of traditional instruments are produced. Please enjoy yourself and have fun in this sonic playground. Orchestrate your own ensemble for pungnyu music and create your own melody with a dice game.