If you’ve never heard of the Gangwon Comprehensive Museum (강원종합박물관), you’re certainly not the only one, and yet this huge and rather eye-catching museum should really be on everyone’s radar. It’s a bit traditional, definitely quirky, and really unique in all of the right ways. If you love finding off the beaten path hidden gems in Korea, then this is definitely one to seek out. Take a roadtrip into Gangwon, maybe head to Gangneung like we did, and then pull over for a stop at this museum in the middle of nowhere.
Check out this epic museum in Gangwon-do:
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How To Get There
Address: 3016 Gangwonnambu-ro, Singi-myeon, Samcheok-si, Gangwon-do (강원 삼척시 신기면 강원남부로 3016)
By Public Transportation: Take an intercity bus to Samcheok Terminal. From there, board a bus to Dogye/Taebaek which departs every 20-30 minutes and get off at Singi Terminal. It’s a 5 minute walk from there. You can also take a train to Singi Station from Cheongnyangni Station and then walk 10 minutes from there.
Hours: Every day: 8:00am ~ 7:00pm
Admission: Adults: W9,000; Children: W7,000
What To See
You’ll drive down a country road in Gangwon and come around a bend to view this gigantic, and I mean it’s just huge, traditionally inspired museum building. Walk around from the parking lot to the entrance and your eyes will bulge. It’s just so huge I wondered why I had never seen pictures of this museum before. “Cultural assets connect the past, the present, and the future” as their information reads and it is true. There is a lot to learn here and so many cultural assets to see.
There are four galleries of relics that have been donated by supporters of Daejin Seongju Hoe. The galleries don’t just encompass Korean history, but rather Asian history with relics from South Korea as well as the larger region.
Natural History and Ceramics
The first floor of relics is the Hall of Natural History which has an impressive collection of fossils and minerals. We had just been studying fossils and minerals this year so found some great specimens to add to our curriculum. They hold one of the South Korea’s largest meteorites and a woolly mammoth.
Head upstairs and you’ll find ceramics and metal works. You’ll naturally follow the route up, around the floors, and then back down again through these floors of relics and artifacts. The floors aren’t large but there is quite a bit to see in each space.
Cave and Stalactites
Back downstairs, from the Hall of Natural History, you’ll follow signs to a rather intriguing back hallway. The entrance is a bit foreboding with red lights and you’ll see giant stones lining the corridor leading you down to an entrance. The entrance ultimately takes you to the Hall of Stalactites. This is really interesting as it’s not natural at all, but they’ve taken an interior hallway and let the water drip to create artificial stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstones.
It’s so quirky and cool, you need to see it to believe it. I found this really educational as well though as you can point out to your children how exactly they’ve let the water drip to create these. The water is still dripping too and you can see where they’ve let things drip and then stopped them. It’s just so weird, it’s cool what they’ve done if you ask me. If you have kids, or even if you don’t, be sure to notice the stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, and harden-stones as you walk through the spaces.
World Religion Artifacts
After the cave, you wrap back around and signs lead you to the Exhibition Hall of World Religion Folk Wooden Work. This hall is much larger than the previous halls and is also packed with relics and things to see. At this point, we were a bit overwhelmed by everything that is housed in this museum to be honest. The spaces don’t have much unused space so it’s very overstimulating. I think these sections of the museum could use a bit more information about relics and a bit less in each case. It’s a lot. You could easily spend hours here trying to see everything.
Waterfalls and Stalactites
Now outside, continue to follow the signs which are numbered and help you see everything and you’ll now be in a quirky maze of handmade stalagmites. You’ll come out through a space where you can see the amazing installation from above and then walk through and around. Keep your eyes peeled for all of the various pathways in and out. This space is just so weird, it’s cool.
We had a lot of fun running in and around these stalagmites in the outdoor area of the museum. It’s a funky, very photographable zone that I really had to see in person to believe. No, the stalagmites aren’t real, but they are fun. Look into the waters that flow through the installation and you’ll see stone alligators and fish and more too. It’s a very creative and inspiring zone for children who want an adventure.
While this museum could use a bit more curation, there is a lot to see and learn about in the exhibition halls and outside. It’s an out of the way museum that’s a great stop on a road trip in Gangwon-do if you ask me. We headed here from the east coast on the way back to Seoul and had a great time. There’s a small cafe and souvenir shop to get some drinks before you depart as well. See what you can see in Korea! There’s always something amazing to find.