First of all, sorry for the lack of photos. It’s difficult to snap photos while making sure my two 4 year olds don’t destroy anything or kill themselves with an 18 month old strapped to my back! I’m working on it though!
Today, the kids and I set off to the Rolling Ball Museum and the Fun Museum, which I read about on this AMAZING blog Kids Fun in Seoul. It sounded great, and I coordinate some other moms and their preschool-aged kids to meet us there. We arrived to find that of all the weeks in the year, the museum was closed this week for their yearly break. :-/
Luckily, on our walk to the museum from the subway station, we passed the Agriculture Museum and right next to it, the Rice Museum. Why not? We’d come all this way. May as well venture in!
We started at the Agriculture Museum, which felt a bit strange when we first walked in with our brood of 4 year old boys. They were loud and rambunctious, and the museum was dead silent. The women at the information desk welcomed us in, and one of the women followed us through the first floor exhibition, giving us (me, mostly, since I was the only one of the bunch who spoke Korean) brief descriptions of the dioramas.
The museum is filled with depictions of early agriculture in Korea, beginning with the Stone Age and progressing through the development of Bronze age tools, the adaptation of natural resources (abundant mountain streams to irrigate crops), and innovations that allowed for things such as growing crops during Korea’s cold winters. One of the most interesting dioramas showed Korea’s unique greenhouse–the very first greenhouse ever used in human history according to the museum guide–made from paper (since glass had yet to be invented) that had been treated with animal fat. Very cool!
We were guided upstairs, where the exhibition continued, showing depictions of everyday life in post-agricultural or “traditional” Korea. At the end of the exhibition galleries on the 2nd floor, there’s a small room with activities for children. There wasn’t a whole lot that our group of kiddos could participate in since everything was in Korean, but there were buttons to push and a couple of touchscreen activities that engaged our 4 year olds, despite their inability to understand what they were doing!
|Sorry for A) the blurred out faces of these handsome little guys, but only Charlie and Lincoln are mine, and B) the fact that I was unable to get a photo with ANY of the boys actually looking at the camera!|
|No matter what, button pushing is fun.|
Right next door to the Agricultural Museum is the Rice Museum. I should mention that both of these museums are sponsored/supported by NH, a major Korean agricultural company. Their green and blue NH logo can be seen all over the country–on food items, on buildings, on banks–there’s actually an NH bank that was originally founded to help farmers manage their finances.
Anyway, the Rice Museum is a much more child-centered museum. The space is bright and colorful, and it’s much more hands-on that the Agricultural Museum. There’s a room with cute little stools for kids to sit on (or climb or rearrange) and watch a video about rice. Moms can sit in there and take a little break too!
One of the women told us about a little rice cafe upstairs on the second floor, so we ventured up there and found a cafe that sold snacks and drinks consisting entirely of NH products. There were things like rice lattes, shikhae (the sweet rice drink that’s often given to you at the end of your meal at Korean restaurants), hoedduk (a pancake-like snack with melted brown sugar in the center–so good!), ddukbokki (the spicy rice cake dish often found at street vendor stalls), and rice puff snacks for kids. FYI, none of the food is prepared there. All of the food that’s sold and served is from NH’s line of pre-packaged instant-ready foods. The just add water and microwave. You can also purchase these items at the little shop to take home and eat at a later time.
On our way out, I noticed a sign by the door to the elevator lobby:
It appears as though the Rice Museum offers enrichment classes for children on the weekends. Obviously, these classes revolve around cooking, and I would imagine that understanding and speaking Korean is a requirement… But how fun! The youngest age group is 6-7, so my kiddos are too young to go anyway, but they would love it. I’ll have to come back in a couple of years and get them in some cooking classes!
So all in all, despite our little setback at the beginning, we had a good time. We’ll probably be going to the Rolling Ball Museum next week since I was able to confirm that they will, in fact, be open.