Museum SAN, the Museum Under the Sky

Jesus Figueroa

"I wanted to turn the whole mountain terrain into a museum, instead of merely constructing a building -- a place where people of all ages can discover a new self and regain the 'energy for life'spending a day enjoying the arts and nature." -- Tadao Ando
The Museum SAN is designed by the world-renowned architect Tadao Ando. His dreams to create a museum that can offer "energy for life" instead of an ordinary museum that is like a silent box came true in his design of the Museum SAN. 

As he hoped, more than two thousand people visit the Museum SAN each year to find a rest in nature leaving their busy city life behind. 

As its popularity increased, it has been selected as one of the outstanding attractions in Korea that one must visit in Korea along with other famous sites such as the Namsan Seoul Tower and the Hahoe Folk Village. 

What are the most essential elements that attract people to the Museum SAN? Here are five reasons why one must visit the Museum SAN.

1. Architecture: Space that Offers "Energy for Life"
The unusual shape of the museum site, a long piece of land stretched toward the mountaintop, inspired Ando to create a different world surrounded by the beautiful nature. He imagined a place that is unlike any other museums -- a place where children can run around in nature gaining "energy for life (nourishment for the mind that will last throughout the whole life)." The museum's gardens in nature -- Flower Garden, Water Garden and Stone Garden -- and the courtyards in geometric shapes reflect his intention to create a special place that provides "energy for life."

2. Art: James Turrell -- the Largest Collection in Asia
James Turrell's works composed of light and space allow the audience to step into them, presenting an unusual experience to feel them with the whole body not just with the eye. Guided by the pure beauty of light and the dreamlike atmosphere of the space, the audience are led to the realm of light. The Museum SAN holds the largest James Turrell collection in Asia comprising six site-specific works. It is a place every Turrell fan should visit.

3. Nature: Museum Touching the Sky
The Museum SAN is located 275 meters above the sea level and is a museum that is the nearest to the sky. The panoramic view of distant mountains from the mountain top gives yet another joy to visitors. The beauty of the sky is reflected on the Water Garden unfolding over 5,000 square meters on the top of the mountain. Ando designed the Water Garden to contain the sky in it. He created a museum touching the sky, surrounded by the sky.

4. Meditation: Rest in Nature
The Meditation Center that is scheduled to open this September is another unique attraction of the Museum SAN. The Meditation Center with a dome open to the sky is designed by Tadao Ando. Located in a deep forest surrounded by the sound of birds and bugs, the fragrance of flowers and trees, this center provides the optimal condition for meditation. Meditation in nature out of the hectic city life is a rest for body and mind, a blissful experience that only the Museum SAN can offer.

5. Youth: The Founder
The Museum SAN is a dream come true for In-Hee Lee, Chairperson of the Museum and the first daughter of Byung-chul Lee, the founder of Samsung. In-hee Lee who has always been a passionate and tasteful art collector established the Museum SAN to share her life-long collection with the public. It took her forty years to finally realize her dream -- the Museum SAN opened in 2013 when she turned eighty-six years of age. Tadao Ando called Lee's dreams and passion "youth." This youth is not about age, but about passion, spirit of adventure, and hope. Lee kept dreaming of creating a museum even at the age over eighty -- a dream of a youthful mind in the true sense.

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