Travel Highlights

Enjoy Cultural Arts in Seoul!

  • Tag etc Tour
  • Date02/13/2020
  • Hit23534

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Deoksugung

For all you culture vultures, here is an all-in-one guide to the representative cultural art centers in Seoul! If you have spare time in your schedule or just need a break from touring around the city, consider visiting a performance hall or an art museum. Diverse performances and arts will not only present you with memories, but also nourish your soul!

Performing Arts

National Theater of Korea

National Theater of Korea (Credit: National Theater of Korea)

Established in 1950 as the first national theater in Asia, the National Theater of Korea presents diverse performances spanning Korea’s traditional arts, ballet, and opera. World renowned performance groups and organizations from overseas often hold performances here as well. The theater is composed of Haeoreum Theater, the main hall (temporarily closed for remodeling); Daloreum Theater, a smaller theater; Byeoloreum Theater, designed for original performances; and Haneul Theater, an outdoor stage. The National Theater of Korea is especially popular among tourists due to its location near Namsan Seoul Tower and Myeong-dong. The theater is just a 20-minute bus ride from either of these popular attractions.

Address: 59, Jangchungdan-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 중구 장충단로 59)

Seoul Arts Center

Seoul Arts Center’s Opera House (Credit: Seoul Arts Center)

Seoul Arts Center features dynamic theater facilities suitable for a variety of performances. The center holds cultural art events in a multitude of genres throughout the year. The signature building of the center is the Opera House, with its unique architectural design like that of a traditional Korean hat. The Opera House stages all kinds of performances, holding on to the true essence of performance arts. In addition to the Opera House, Seoul Arts Center is home to a concert hall, musical fountain, Hangaram Art Museum, Hangaram Design Museum, and Seoul Calligraphy Art Museum. The musical fountain in the outdoor plaza is popular among family visitors.

Address: 2406, Nambusunhwan-ro, Seocho-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 서초구 남부순환로 2406)

Sejong Center

Sejong Center (Top & right credit: Sejong Center)

Korea’s unique traditional architecture is merged with modern design to create the grand yet elegant appearance of Sejong Center. Sejong Center holds a variety of performances of diverse genres including traditional Korean, classics, and even crossovers. The main theater, Grand Theater, has a wide stage equipped with the largest pipe organ in Asia. Sejong Center is a popular attraction among tourists as it is located across from Gwanghwamun Square and Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Address: 175, Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 세종대로 175)

Art Museums

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Deoksugung (top) & Seoul (bottom, credit: Seoul Culture Foundation)

With the slogan “Art museum in everyday life,” the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) in Seoul is loved by locals for its display of artwork in addition to being an aesthetic resting spot. The biggest characteristic of this attraction is its consistent admission fee. In contrast to other art museums where prices differ depending on special exhibitions, MMCA offers a combination ticket with access to all exhibitions and video displays. MMCA is recommended to be added into your itinerary since it is located at the entrance to Samcheongdong-gil Road, near Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace.

The Deoksugung Branch of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is located within a modern stone building that was previously used as the living quarters and personal offices of the emperor. The building’s architectural style is just one example of the many Western-style buildings that fill Deoksugung Palace. The museum displays works by both domestic and international artists in the modern and contemporary fields, rotating exhibitions four to five times in a year.

- MMCA, Seoul Branch: 30, Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 삼청로 30)
- MMCA, Deoksugung Branch: 99, Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 중구 세종대로 99)

Seoul Museum of Art

Seoul Museum of Art

The main building of Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA), which was once used for the Supreme Court, is highly recognized for its splendid modern image after undergoing renovation. Seoul Museum of Art also offers a special program, Museum Night, on the second and last Wednesday of each month. Starting from 19:00, the program showcases artworks in connection with music and films for an immersive experience. The museum also has an outdoor exhibition area, perfect for leisurely strolls. If you are visiting Deoksugung Palace, consider adding Seoul Museum of Art to your schedule as they are located right next to each other.

In addition to the main branch, SeMA also operates Buk-Seoul Museum of Art and Nam-Seoul Museum of Art. The Buk-Seoul branch is located within Deungnamu Neighborhood Park, with many visitors naturally visiting the museum when at the park. The Nam-Seoul branch is located within the former Belgian Consulate Office. The building is a prime example of the classical architectural style of the early 1900's, a perfect host for modern and contemporary arts.

- SeMA: 61, Deoksugung-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 중구 덕수궁길 61)
- Buk-SeMA: 1238, Dongil-ro, Nowon-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 노원구 동일로 1238)
- Nam-SeMA: 2076, Nambusunhwan-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 관악구 남부순환로 2076)

Hangaram Art Museum

Hangaram Art Museum (Right credit: Seoul Arts Center)

Located inside Seoul Arts Center, Hangaram Art Museum features various plastic arts. It consists of six exhibition halls and an art shop. Most featured exhibitions are based on modern art, making it easier for beginners to approach the world of art. Often visited by people watching performances at Seoul Arts Center, Hangaram Art Museum is convenient to explore due to its open-style exhibition halls.

Address: 2406, Nambusunhwan-ro, Seocho-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 서초구 남부순환로 2406)

King Sejong Story & The Story of Admiral Yi Sun-shin

King Sejong Story & The Story of Admiral Yi Sun-shin

The basement level of Sejong Center is divided into the exhibition halls of King Sejong Story and The Story of Admiral Yi Sun-shin. Each exhibition features displays, videos, and hands-on zones for visitors to learn about these two important figures in Korean history. King Sejong Story in particular features a video about King Sejong’s life, and a display of traditional Korean instruments created during his reign. In the hall about Admiral Yi, visitors can experience a battle fought in by the Admiral through 3D and 4D videos.

Address: 175, Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 세종대로175)

More Info
  • Seoul Tourism Website: (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Thai)
  • 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Thai, Malay)

* This column was last updated in January 2020, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.