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National Museum of Korea

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BC: Glaser, J. R., & Zenetou, A. A. (1996). Museums: A place to work, planning museum careers. New York, NY: Routledge. Schlatter, N. E. (2008). Museum Careers: A practical guide for students and novices. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. The National Museum of Korea visitor brochures.

FC: The National Museum of Korea Seoul, South Korea Thomas Close Exploring Museum Professions January 2011

1: Upon walking up to this modern and enormous museum located in the center of Seoul, you are greeted by several friendly security guards. According to one guard, many of them speak Korean and some English, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian. Since this is Korea's largest and most cherished museum, the security chief and museum director obviously made the choice to hire multilingual guards who "provide the primary contact that visitors have with museum personnel" (Schlatter, p. 92). Also, it was very evident that security and guarding the museum was a high priority. They are quick to highlight the fact that Seoul and the museum hosted the 2010 G-20 Summit. This could be why there were so many recent renovations throughout the museum If your are a first time visitor or miss the excessively small signs stating that admission is free to the permanent collections, your first stop will be the ticketing booth in the top picture. There is no doubt that this is a strategy to get people to pay for the temporary exhibits.

2: (Below) Membership services are offered by the museum. The membership officers are responsible for the "recruitment and retention of member" (Glaser, p. 108). There were membership discount incentives for Korean citizens and international students, but none for others (short-term residents) like myself. | (Above) After entering the grand hall, visitors are greeted by more guards and a round information desk. Visitor services staff are present to direct you to the cloakroom so you can drop off heavy bags or coats. Also, they usually offer audio tour devices. However, the devices were not available during my visit. The greeter said they audio tour was being upgraded and gave me a map and brochure instead. Most likely in coordination with the retail/marketing department, they circled the shops and restaurants on my map.

3: The job of curators, registrars, exhibit managers, and technicians is always far from done in this massive museum. According to the museum brochure, there are over 220,000 objects in the collection and at least 13,000 on display. All pieces are carefully marked by the registrar for clear and easy identification and handling. This helps organize the collection. (Schlatter, p. 72) Also, curators must work with exhibits designers to maximize the experience of visitors. Most of the objects, including wood, paper, and fabrics, are one to two thousand years old and require constant care. The information staff verified that conservators regularly treat and protect the collections. They help with the "control of temperature, relative humidity, and light." (Glaser, p. 78) During the extremely humid summer months, this must be a crucial job.

4: There were no scheduled tours available during my visit, but there were plenty of resources offered by the education and visitor resources departments. (Left) There were brochures for each section of the exhibit. Most were only in Korean, but my rough translations were good enough. These were likely made with help of educators and publications staff since the educators are responsible for "enhancing public access to and understanding and interpretation of the collections, exhibitions, and resources." (Glaser, p. 92) The brochures offered basic information on the collections such as age and purpose. Although everything was labeled, the audio tour would have been nice. Again, educators likely worked with information/technology staff to create the audio tour (right) that was being upgraded

5: The National Museum of Korea does a great job of incorporating technology with photography. The IT and multimedia staff must work with photographers to properly document and display some objects via multimedia displays (televisions, projectors, etc...). | Curators and exhibit designers would have a hand in overseeing how the media manager implements multimedia technology. (Right) In line with his/her responsibilities (Glaser, p. 107), the media manager may have suggested the use of interactive screens within the folklore portion of the exhibit on culture.

6: This museum is so large that it has four shops (one on each floor). Each store had a small sign near the register revealing the respective retail managers who must are "responsible for stocking the store with goods that will appeal to visitors" (Schlatter, p. 90). Each gift shop had museum- and Korea-related merchandise for tourists. There were special sections for Korean natives too. | By my estimates, there were at least 25-35 sales clerks and retail staff between the stores. Surprisingly, none of the stores are placed in very obvious places. Their number reveals the importance for revenue, but the location reveals the museum's primary focus on its exhibits.

7: The museum has five newly remodeled food establishments to increase revenue. However, like the shops, the cafes and restaurants are located in unobtrusive places near the entrance hall. Since there were no indications about who manages the restaurants and their staff, one might assume that duty belongs to the facilities manager since they sometimes "may manage retail sales, food services" (Schlatter, p. 100) and other aspects of the museum.

8: During this visit to the museum, the majority of the library was closed due to a special meeting. However, the job of the librarian(s) seems immense. From a cursory glance, I could see this library houses thousands of books and historical texts. The task of maintaining and updating the collection would prove to be time consuming. Also, there were signs in Korean & English detailing information about scheduling research times and librarian assistance that must include "reference, bibliographical, and readers' advisory services." (Glaser, p. 104)

9: There are numerous restrooms and water stations (left) located throughout the museum. These, along with the lighting/heating/cooling, must maintained by housekeeping staff who are likely overseen by the facilities manager. (Schlatter, p. 100) There are also at least 3 freight elevators (right) used in conjunction with facilities and exhibitions departments. These are probably used for relocating supplies, machinery, and museum collections. The preparators and registrars would also use these while working on exhibits.

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Thomas Close
  • By: Thomas C.
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  • Title: National Museum of Korea
  • Tags: korea, museum
  • Published: over 5 years ago

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