Glass House looks out to the ocean off Seopjikoji (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)
SEOGWIPO, Jeju Island -- Though better known for its beaches and forests, Jeju Island also boasts a wide range of art galleries, some of them offering more than just a display of art works.
Big name architects such as Tadao Ando and Jun Itami have designed art galleries on Jeju Island, under the architectural principle of harmonizing the structure with the surrounding environment.
One example is the Yumin Art Nouveau Collection. Located on the tip of Seopjikoji, a cape on eastern Jeju Island, a coastal trail leads visitors to the gallery.
Visitors walk in the garden at the entrance of Yumin Art Nouveau Collection. (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)
Renowned Japanese architect Ando designed the gallery with the goal of blending the structure seamlessly with its surrounding nature. To that end, he deploys his signature architectural style by using stone, water and concrete in the garden. A stone wall structure leads the visitors into the gallery.
The gallery’s collection, amassed by the late Hong Jin-gi, former chairman of vernacular newspaper JoongAng Ilbo, centers around art nouveau glass works, including the famed “Inky Cap Mushrooms” by French artist Emile Galle.
“I really do not know much about art. I came here as it is situated at Seopjikoji. But I can see that the gallery building itself is beautiful,” said a middle-aged visitor who gave her surname as Kim. She was with her three friends from Seoul on a vacation.
“This garden shows the characteristics of Jeju Island with stone and water. I am not an art expert, but one can easily see that,” she said.
Next to the gallery, the Glass House -- another Ando structure -- sits atop a hill, its cafe and restaurant offering Jeju delicacies such as black pork and carrots, along with a stunning ocean view.
The famous Japanese architect also designed Bonte Museum on the island. The museum, situated 40 minutes away from Jeju International Airport by car, was founded in 2012 by Lee Haeng-ja, a family member of the South Korean conglomerate Hyundai.
The museum features a wide collection of art from traditional Korean craft to contemporary artwork by internationally acclaimed artists such as Yayoi Kusama.
The view from Bonte Museum’s cafe (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)
As is typical of Ando’s buildings, the museum also features a classic concrete structure with ponds. A low “damjang,” a wall with traditional Korean patterns, adds color to the structure.
Near Bonte Museum is Church of Sky, designed by Itami, a Japan-born Korean architect. Attached to the southern island in Korea, he left some notable structures on the island, including Podo Hotel and the Water, Wind, Rock Museum.
Church of Sky (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)
Church of Sky resembles Noah’s ark, looking as if is standing in water with its surrounding water garden.
Though a functioning church with regular worship services, it is heavily visited by tourists, regardless of their religion, for its architectural beauty.
More information on art museums on Jeju Island can be found at the Jeju Tourism Organization site, www.visitjeju.net
By Im Eun-byel (firstname.lastname@example.org
View from Bonte Museum's cafe (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)
Sangcheon-ri 380, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo City
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: 20,000 won for adults, 14,000 won for youth
Yumin Art Nouveau Collection
Yumin Art Nouveau Collection (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)
Seopjikoji-ro 107, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo City
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Closed Tuesdays
Admission: 12,000 won for adults, 9,000 won for youth