The Ultimate Guide to Busan’s Museums

Written by on February 28, 2013 in Arts, Travel

Although known for sun, sand and sea, the beautiful southern city of Busan is also a hub for cultural activity. It is home to the Busan Biennale, a city-wide celebration of contemporary art, and the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), set to enter its 18th year in 2013. If you are interested in exploring the artsy and historical aspects of Busan, look no further! This is your ultimate guide to Busan’s museums. Check Korea Blog’s other guide for Daegu, Daegu Museums.

Museums in Busan

ART MUSEUMS
Busan Museum of Art (부산시립미술관)
Busan Museum of Art, 58 Apec-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan, 612-814
051-744-2602
http://art.busan.go.kr/english/main/

01 Busan Museum of Art

Busan Museum of Art (Source)

This impressive facility has over 6,000 metres of exhibition space including an outdoor sculpture park. The museum is the proud host of the Busan Biennale and it possesses over 2,000 artworks of modern and contemporary Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese art as well as works by artist Henry Miller. The Busan Museum of Art is a must-see for art-lovers and for those who wish to learn more about Busan and its history.

Hours 10 am to 8 pm, admission until 7 pm.Closed Mondays, Jan. 1.
Closed Tuesday if Monday is a holiday.
Closed when installing new works; check website prior to visiting.
 
Admission Free, excluding special temporary exhibits
 
Accessibility              Free parking; wheelchair parking; ramps/elevators; accessible washrooms
 
Guides    Audio guides available in Korean and English
 
Facilities Art Book Library – Holds 10,000 books, magazines, and dissertations.
AV Room – Shows art videos twice on weekdays, three times on weekends.
Galleries – Two affiliated galleries: Yongdusan Park and Geumnyeonsan
Art Shop and Café
 
Events    Korean-language programs – Arts courses, artist dialogues, and seminars
Cultural performance – Free; Saturdays at 2 pm
 
Directions Metro Line 2 (Green) to Busan Museum of Art station, stop #205 (부산시립미술관).
The museum is 100 metres outside of Exit 5.

 

02 Busan Museum of Art Map

Busan Museum of Art Map (Source)
Click to enlarge

 

ANCIENT KOREAN HISTORY MUSEUMS
Bokcheon Museum (복천박물관)
Bokcheon Museum, Bokcheon-dong, Dongnae-gu, Busan
051-550-0311
http://museum.busan.go.kr/english/02bokcheon/index.jsp

Bokcheon Museum

Bokcheon Museum (Source)

The Bokcheon Museum is located next to the ancient tombs of Bokcheon-dong, and it is a wonderful place to get lost for the day. Inside it has exhibits on three floors, and outside a sprawling outdoor research center will entice visitors. To date, the center has unearthed over 200 tombs, of which the 53rd and 54th are preserved intact and available for viewing. An excellent day-trip.

Hours 10 am to 8 pm, admission until 7 pm. Closed Mondays, Jan. 1.
Closed Tuesday if Monday is a holiday.
 
Admission ₩500 Adults; ₩300 for groups of 20 or more
₩300 Youth (13-19) & soldiers; ₩200 for groups
Free for children under 13, seniors over 65, and the disabled
 
Accessibility             Ramps/elevators; accessible washrooms; stairways for outdoor exhibits
 
Facilities AV Room – Screens videos about Busan culture and history, 6 days a week
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday: Busan History
Sunday, Wednesday, Friday: Bokcheondong Ancient TombsClassroom, culture experience room, and photo zone
 
Events Korean-language museum and history lectures for children and adults
 
Directions Metro Line 1 (Red) to Dongnae station, stop #125 (동래).
Take Exit 4 and transfer to city bus #6.

 

Bokcheon Museum Map

Bokcheon Museum Map (Source)
Click to enlarge

 

Dongsam-dong Shell Midden Museum (동삼동패총전시관)
749-8 Dongsam 3-dong, Yeongdo-gu, Busan
051-403-1193
http://museum.busan.go.kr/english/04dongsam/index.jsp
http://engmuseum.busan.go.kr/

Dongsam-dong Shell Midden Museum

Dongsam-dong Shell Midden Museum (Source)

This small museum displays the artifacts of excavations in the Dongsam-dong area and gets its name from the large amount of shell midden found there. Shell middens are piles of shells discarded by prehistoric peoples. Shellfish was used as a food source and ornaments and tools were made from the shells, providing insight into the way prehistoric people lived. The museum displays its prehistoric findings including fossils, pottery, tools made of bone and stone, and jewelry.

Hours 9 am to 6 pm, admission until 5 pm. Closed Mondays, Jan. 1
Closed Tuesday if Monday is a holiday.
 
Admission               Free, excluding special temporary exhibits
 
Directions Take the bus to the Korea Maritime University stop (해양대학교) and walk.
From Busan Station: 88, 101
Sinpyeong: 113; Songdo: 30; Danggam: 88; Daeyeon Crossroads: 101;
Sasang Inter-City Bus Terminal: No. 8, 8-1;
Nampo Subway Station, Exit 6: 8, 13, 88

 

Dongsam-dong Shell Museum Map

Dongsam-dong Shell Museum Map (Source)
Click to enlarge

 

MODERN KOREAN HISTORY MUSEUMS
Busan Museum (부산박물관)
Busan Museum, 210 UN-ro, Nam-gu, Busan
051-610-7111
http://museum.busan.go.kr/english/01busan/index.jsp

Busan Museum

Busan Museum (Source)

This museum displays over 6,000 relics from the prehistoric age, the Three Kingdoms era, and the Joseon Dynasty. Special exhibits include the interactive kiln and modern history halls, as well as on outdoor sculpture park. This wonderful museum is within walking distance of the UN Cemetery and Peace Park, and the Busan Cultural Center. Another must-see. Plan on spending several hours here.

Hours 9 am to 8 pm, admission until 7 pm. Closed Mondays, Jan. 1.
Closed Tuesday if Monday is a holiday.
 
Admission Free
 
Accessibility             Wheelchair & stroller loans; ramps/elevators; accessible washrooms; nursing room; public phone
 
Guides Audio-guides available in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese
Korean-language tours daily at 10:30, 1:30, and 3:00
1 Japanese interpreter available
Facilities Auditorium; lecture hall; culture experience centre; souvenir shop
 
Events Korean-language museum and history lectures for children and adults
 
Directions Metro Line 2 (Green) to Daeyeon station, stop #213 (대연).
The museum is a 10-minute walk from Exit 3, in the direction of UN Rotary.

 

Busan Museum Map

Busan Museum Map (Source)
Click to enlarge


Modern History Museum (부산근대역사관)

42-2, 2-ga Daecheong-dong, Jung-gu, Busan, 600-092
051-253-3845
http://museum.busan.go.kr/english/03modern/index.jsp

Modern History Museum

Modern History Museum (Source)

The building housing the Modern History Museum was built in 1929 by Japanese colonialists and was later used as the American Embassy during the Korean War, before it was reclaimed by Busan city and named an important cultural property. It was converted into a museum in 2003. The museum traces the modern history of Busan, including the opening of Busan port, the history of the Japanese occupation and the Oriental Development Company, and modern Korea-US relations.

Hours 9 am to 6 pm, admission until 5 pm. Closed Mondays, Jan. 1.
Closed Tuesday if Monday is a holiday.
 
Admission                Free
 
Events Korean-language museum and history lectures offered throughout the year
 
Directions Metro Line 1 (Red) to Jungang station, stop #112 (중앙).
Take Exit 5 or 7 and the Modern History Museum is a 5-minute walk, past the bank of Korea.

 

Modern History Museum Map

Modern History Museum Map (Source)
Click to enlarge

 

Provisional Capital Memorial Hall (임시수도기념관)
22, Bumin-dong 2-ga, Seo-gu, Busan
051-244-6345
http://engmuseum.busan.go.kr/

Provisional Capital Memorial Hall

Provisional Capital Memorial Hall (Source)

During the Korean War, Busan became Korea’s provisional capital when then-President Syngman Rhee moved his office and other key government bureaus to Busan. The President’s former residence is now a memorial hall, featuring books, official documents and some of Rhee’s personal belongings.

Hours 9 am to 5 pm (Nov-Feb), 9 am to 6 pm (Mar-Oct)
Closed Mondays, Jan. 1.
Closed Tuesday if Monday is a holiday.
 
Admission                Free
 
Directions Metro Line 1 (Red) to Toseong station, stop #109 (토성).
Take Exit 2 and walk toward Dong-A University (동아대) for 3 blocks.

 

Provisional Capital Memorial Hall Map

Provisional Capital Memorial Hall Map (Source)
Click to enlarge

 

Dong-A University Museum (동아대학교 박물관)
Bumin Campus, 225 Gudeok-ro, Bumin-dong 2-ga, Seo-gu, Busan
051-200-8493
http://museum.donga.ac.kr/ (Korean only)

Dong-A University Museum

Dong-A University Museum (Source)

Established in 1959, The Dong-A University Museum’s collection includes over 3,000 artifacts, of which two are Korean National Treasures including calligraphy, ceramics, paintings, folk culture and historical documents.

Hours 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, admission until 4:00 pm
Closed Mondays and national holidays.
 
Admission                Free
 
Directions Metro Line 1 (Red) to Toseong station, stop #109 (토성).
Take Exit 2 and walk toward Dong-A University (동아대), Bumin Campus.

 

Dong-A University Museum Map

Dong-A University Museum Map (Source)
Click to enlarge

 

40 Gyedan Cultural Center and Tourism Street (40계단 문화관광테마거리)
44-3, Donggwang-dong 5-ga, Jung-gu, Busan, 600-025
051-600-4040
www.bsjunggu.go.kr (City website; Korean only)

40 Gyedan Cultural Center`

40 Gyedan Cultural Center

When the Korean War began in 1950, refugees were driven into Busan and many settled in the hillside Donggwang-dong area, which was reached by climbing 40 steps. Those steps became a place to reunite separated families and so the area is remembered for its significance to Korean War refugees, honoured with the historically-themed street, and the cultural center and museum. This area is definitely worth an hour or two of your time.

Hours 10 am to 6 pm (5 pm on weekends). Closed Mondays, Jan. 1
Closed Tuesday if Monday is a holiday.
 
Admission Free
 
Accessibility                    Elevators
 
Guides English and Japanese-speaking volunteers are often found at the museum.
The signage is in Korean, English, and Japanese.
Facilities Cultural viewing room – Free movie screening every Saturday at 2 pm
Traditional culture room – Classes in traditional etiquette and tea-pouring
 
Events Chamber music concerts, seminars, dance, or theatrical performances are held throughout the year in the multi-purpose room on the 4th floor.
 
Directions Metro Line 1 (Red) to Jungang station, stop #112 (중앙).
Take Exit 13 and you will see a train-themed street with sculptures.
Follow this street to the 40 Steps Memorial.
At the top, you’ll see the 6-story Donggwang-dong office building.
The museum and memorial hall can be found on the 5th and 6th floors.

 

MARINE LIFE & HISTORY MUSEUMS
Marine Natural History Museum (부산해양자연사박물관)

175 Ujangchung-ro, Oncheon-dong, Dongnae-gu, Busan
051-553-4944
http://sea.busan.go.kr/english

Marine Natural History

Marine Natural History (Source)

The Busan Marine Natural History Museum exhibits 25,000 marine specimens, fossils, and artifacts from over 100 countries around the world, including rare living species. This museum is popular with kids and adults alike.

Hours 9 am to 6 pm, admission until 5 pm. Closed Mondays, Jan. 1
Closed Tuesday if Monday is a holiday.
 
Admission ₩2,500 Adults; ₩1,500 students; ₩600 children
 
Accessibility            Elevators; hall for visually-impaired on the 2nd floor
 
Guides Audio-guides in Korean, English, Japanese, or Chinese for ₩2,000
Facilities Library and cyber-reading room on the 3rd floor
 
Directions Metro Line 1 (Red) to Oncheonjang Station, stop #127 (온천장).
Take Exit 4 and walk 15 minutes toward Geumgang Gongwon (Geumgang Park,금강공원).

 

National Maritime Museum (국립해양박물관)
45 Haeyang-ro, 301 Beon-gil, Yeongdo-gu, Busan
051-309-1900
http://www.nmm.go.kr/english/ (Easy to navigate and informative)

National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum (Source)

The main attraction of this museum is the impressive building which houses it. The museum also holds an aquarium, the largest ship model in Korea, and a number of interactive exhibits as well. If you go all the way out there, try to go on a nice day so you can enjoy the observation decks and consider visiting the nearby Taejeongdae or the Dongsam-dong Shell Midden Museum.

Hours Weekdays 9 am to 6 pm, Sat. 9 am to 9 pm, Sun. 9 am to 7 pm
Admission until 1 hour before closing. Closed Mondays and holidays.
 
Admission Free, excluding special temporary exhibitions
 
Accessibility            Elevators;  wheelchair loans; accessible washrooms
 
Guides Audio-guides can be rented for ₩2,000
Arrange tours in English, Japanese or Chinese by calling 051-309-1900 prior to your  visit.
Facilities 4-D Theater – 15-minute film screening every half hour.
10:00 am to 4:30 pm (5:30 on weekends). Admission ₩4,000.
Museum Shop; café; restaurant; coatroom; Sky Park; outdoor exhibits
 
Directions Metro Line 1 (Red) to Nampo station, stop #113 (남포).
Transfer to bus #30, 88, 101, 113, or 135.
Get off at the Gyeonghae Fishing Net. Walk for 15 minutes toward the museum.
Or transfer to bus #66 from Nampo station and get off at the National Maritime Museum stop.

 

National Maritime Museum Map

National Maritime Museum Map (Source)
Click to enlarge

 

Busan Fishing Village Folk Museum (부산어촌민속관)
2279, Hwamyeong 3-dong, Buk-gu, Busan
051-363-3333
http://fvfmuseum.busan.go.kr/ (Korean only)

Busan Folk Village Fishing Museum

Busan Folk Village Fishing Museum (Source)

A branch of the Marine Natural History Museum, The Busan Fishing Village Folk Museum documents the history of the Nakdong River and its people inside a boat-shaped building. Here you’ll see miniature dioramas, fishing artifacts, and a few fresh-water creatures. Unfortunately, there is no foreign language information, signage, or service, so the history may be lost on foreign guests.

Hours 10 am to 6 pm (5 pm on weekends). Closed Mondays, Jan. 1
Closed Tuesday if Monday is a holiday.
 
Admission              ₩2,500 Adults; ₩1,500 students; Free for children and elderly over 65
 
Guides No foreign language information, signage, or service
Directions Metro Line 2 (Green) to Hwamyeong station, stop #235 (화명).
Take Exit 1 and walk for 5 minutes..

 

FOLK & OTHER MUSEUMS
The Museum of Musical Instruments of the World (세계악기박물관)

Busan Tower, 1-2 Gwangbok-dong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Busan
051-245-5025
http://www.e-musictour.com/ (Korean only; click ‘Busan Museum’)

Museum of Musical Instruments of the World

Museum of Musical Instruments of the World (Source)

You can visit this small museum after sightseeing at Busan Tower and buying the combined ticket means that museum admission is only ₩1,000 won. Unfortunately, there is no foreign language information, signage, or service, making it difficult for foreign visitors to discern what they are looking at. On the way out of the park, check out the Busan Museum of Art’s Yongdusan Gallery (free admission) and the intriguing if small World Model Ship Exhibition Hall (₩1,000).

Hours Weekdays 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. Closed Mondays and holidays.
 
Admission Museum: Adults ₩2,500; Children under 16 & Seniors ₩2,000
Tower & Museum: Adults ₩5,000; Children under 16 & Seniors ₩4,500
Tower: Adults ₩4,000; Children under 16 & Seniors ₩3,500
 
Accessibility            Ramps/Elevators
 
Guides No foreign language information, signage, or service
 
Directions Metro Line 1 (Red) to Nampo station, stop#113 (남포).
Take Exit 7 and turn left onto Gwangbok-ro Street (광복로).
Walk 160 metres; take the escalator for Yongdusan Park (용두산 공원) on your right.
Visit the park, and the museum is next to Busan Tower.

 

Trick Eye Museum Busan (트릭아이미술관)
85 Nampo-dong, Nampo Plaza 9F, Jung-gu, Busan, South Korea
051-557-1577
www.trickeye2.com

Trick Eye Museum

Trick Eye Museum (Source)

Visit this “museum” if you want a good laugh and if you love taking photos of you and your friends in silly poses. This museum features trick art, including trompe l’oeil or “trick the eye” paintings and 3-D works. This popular museum has sister branches in Seoul and on Jeju Island. Bring a friend so you can strike a pose, and don’t forget your camera!

Hours 10 am to 9 pm; admission until 8 pm. 7 days a week.
 
Admission              ₩10,000 Adults; ₩8,000 for groups of 20 or more
₩8,000 Children under 16; ₩6,000 for groups
₩10,000 Camera rental
 
Directions Metro Line 1 (Red) to Jagalchi station(자갈치역).
Take Exit 7 and walk for 3 minutes towards Gukjae Market (국제시장).
The museum is on the 9th floor.

 

Next time you’re in Busan and looking for something to do, why not check out a museum or two?
Which one is your favourite?

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About the Author

Jessica Steele

Jessica Steele is a Canadian expat teaching, writing, and adventuring in Busan, South Korea. She has lived in Korea for nearly four years, but her travels aren’t finished yet. Her favourite things in Korea are the festivals, neon lights, and of course, kimchi.