During our last week in Korea, we decided to take a trip to Jeju island with my parents for a couple days. Located just south of the Korean peninsula, Jeju is like the Hawaii of Korea, though much less tropical. As it is a volcanic island, aspects of the landscape and culture of Jeju are pretty unique and unlike anything you can experience anywhere else in Korea.
Among the first places we visited as soon as we arrived on the island was the newly opened Bonte Museum which was designed by the renowned architect, Tadao Ando. Using his connections, T's dad was able to arrange for a special tour of the museum for us.
We found that the museum is actually split into two smaller museums. The first museum houses a uniquely curated collection of Joseon era artifacts. Most of these artifacts include household items that were used by the upper class. While the collection paints a picture of every day aristocratic Joseon life, most of the individual pieces themselves included design elements that were uncommon even within that time. The beauty of each piece is further heightened by how elegantly they are displayed and at times even cleverly integrated with the architecture of the museum.
The second museum houses a small collection of contemporary pieces mostly done by European artists. The second floor of this museum also includes some of Ando's notes and models from the design and construction process. It was interesting to see the various iterations he had undergone while designing the museum and helped me to further understand and appreciate the immense amount of thought and attention to detail he invests in each of his projects.
In the days that followed, we visited a number of other museums at Jeju and while each had their own interesting and beautiful stories to tell, I must say that my appreciation for Bonte only deepened. For those who are more familiar with Ando's work I suppose this comes as no surprise. But for me, never had I ever experienced such a perfect marriage between the natural environment, the architecture, and the collection of a museum.