Back to the Future

I have never really been extremely fascinated by prehistory. Sure, as a child I was briefly interested in things prehistoric and I enjoyed watching the reimagined computer generated dinosaurs on TV, but that interest was soon replaced by something else. I wouldn’t purposefully go to museums today to go see anything prehistory related. Or so I thought.

On a particular weekend in January I cleared my schedule to go visit the Jeongok Prehistory Museum, not for the exhibition content but for the architecture. I travelled from Daejeon to Seoul where I spent the night. I planned to devote an entire day to visiting the museum because I did not know how long it would take to get there. I got up early on the Saturday morning, having my now routine sandwich at the corner bakery in Insa-dong – the name keeps changing, but the sandwiches remain amazing. I then made my way to the Subway Line 1. I did not suspect that this would be the longest subway ride of my life – one can’t quite get a measure of time from those nicely designed subway infographic maps. At some point – luckily – the train surfaced and I could actually enjoy the scenery. Three quarters of an hour into this subway ride I noticed the fraying of the urban fabric. The landscape became rural and modest; I was no longer surrounded by the luxuries of a first world city. It felt as if I was traveling back in time.

At Dongducheon Station I had to transfer to the Gyeongwon Line. Finally on the last leg of my journey and nearing Hantangang Station, I started looking out to see if I could catch a glimpse of the museum in the distance. I imagine that Christopher Columbus and I share the same sensation upon witnessing our goal for the first time. The Prehistory Museum sat in the landscape like a glistening stream of liquid metal suspended in motion – a building from the future.

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Jeongok Prehistory Museum by X-Tu architects

After exploring the outside of the building – which was the only reason I came to see the museum – I decided that I might as well go inside. Also, I was pretty hungry at that stage and the only panoramic window of the building seemed to hint at the possibility of a restaurant. Once inside and fed, I was honestly surprised and intrigued by the exhibitions. I found myself wanting to explore the cavities of this cave like structure to see more of the exhibits on display. I can see how this museum would be heaven for a child interested in prehistory and dinosaurs. Did I mention they have a 3D educational movie – in Korean, but still entertaining. I wish I could have visited a museum like this as a child, but then I might have become a Palaeontologist or an Archaeologist.

For more info go to the museum website.

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