The Mask Museum in Namhae

I wrote this post after seeing the amazing map of really important museums by Michael Schmalenstroer (see his blog), so far mostly in Germany, but destined to grow!

In the fall break of 2010, I made a short trip down South with a good friend. In three days (and four nights), we visited Jeonju (where we saw the college musical Sweeney Todd aka 스위니 토드), Tongyeong (where we visited one location of Hong Sang-soo’s movie Hahaha), and, in-between, the Mask Museum on the island Namhae.

S5007018The Namhae Mask & Performing Arts Village (남해국제탈공연예술촌) was founded in 2008 by Prof. Kim Heung-woo (김흥우), former head of the arts school at Dongguk University (동국대학교 예술대학), in a remodeled primary school. It presents Prof. Kim’s large collection of masks from Korea and all over the world. But there are also theatre posters, working scripts, and souvenirs, including the glasses that actor Go Seol-bong (고설봉) wore in the piece The Unconquered [Woman] (정복되지 않은 여자, based on a short story by Somerset Maugham) or the favorite (?) pipe of actor Jeong Jin (정진). A treasure trove for theatre fans! And in the summer a theatre festival (남해섬 공연예술제) is held, too.

Apart from the main building, there are two other smaller halls where, among others, historical documents on the drama ensemble Sinhyeop (극단신협, “considered the most outstanding theatre company of the post-liberation period”, according to an announcement of the ensemble’s 60th anniversary performance at the National Theater) that Kim headed and the mobile-theatre-movement (이동극장) can be seen.

The mask museum is a true gem, indeed, and everyone who visits the wonderful region and is only slightly interested in theatre should stop by. For those who cannot go, the homepage also offers a “smart museum” (스마트 박물관), an online collection of images of masks, theatre poster, pamphlets etc.

The following gallery (my first one!) shows some of the exhibits I photographed back then, just recovered from an old harddisk. You can find some more impressions on the Ministry of Education’s blog as well as on some other private ones.

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– 23 Nov. 2010 (火)

  • 남해국제탈공연예술촌, 경상남도 남해군 이동면 초음리 1418, 관람시간: 오전 9시 ~ 오후 6시 (동절기: 오전 9시 ~ 오후 5시), 휴관일: 매주 월요일, 입장료: 2,000원, 문의: 055 864–7625.
  • Namhae Mask & Performing Arts Village, Gyeongsangnam-do Namhae-gun Idong-myeon Choeum-ri 1418, opening hours: 9am–6pm (9–6 in the winter season), closed every Monday, entrance fee: 2,000 Won.

About Jan Creutzenberg

Jan Creutzenberg, friend of theatre, music, and cinema, comments on his performative experiences in Seoul and elsewhere.
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