Get Intellectual Nourishment from CNU Museum!
By Kim Bo-bae, Tribune Reporter
"To learn about the present in the light of the past means also to learn about the past in the light of the present. The function of history is to promote a profound understanding of both the past and present through the interrelation between them" – E. H Carr
As E. H Carr explained in his book What is history?, we have to study past history to understand the present. You may think learning history is to know facts of the past, but from the facts we can learn about the present as well as the past and make our future better. In this issue, Chonnam Tribune introduces the ways to understand the past in our local area and the history of Chonnam National University. Let’s visit the CNU Museum (UM) and participate in various programs. You will certainly gain valuable knowledge and experience about our history.
Looking around Exhibition Halls
The UM located in the Yongbong Cultural Center is playing a leading role in the research and preservation of the Mahan culture and Korean dinosaurs. It is striving to become a cultural center for the general public in the region by providing them a variety of cultural exhibitions and educational programs to investigate regional culture. The museum has the Permanent Exhibition Hall (PEH), the CNU History Exhibition Hall (UHEH), the Cultural Experience Room and the Outdoor Exhibition, and also operates special exhibitions and educational programs for local residents such as Cultural Lecture Series and Cultural Heritage Investigation.
The PEH is divided into seven sections; The Prehistoric age, Mahan (a Korean ancient tribal state), Potteries, Buddhist arts, Paintings, Folklore, and Dinosaur Galleries. More than 600 relics and artifacts, which have been collected through excavations and collections conducted by the museum, are displayed in this hall. If you look at the Mahan section in the center of the hall, an ancient unique tomb model attracts your attention. The grave is called ‘Onggwanmyo’ where the corpse is sealed in a jar. It was discovered in the Youngsan river valley. It was made during the period when Mahan consisted 54 small counties and had influence on Jeolla Province until being subjugated by the Baekje Kingdom. In the Mahan section, more than 100 relics are exhibited.
Those are a result of steady excavations of the Museum, which has currently participated in the excavation work in Hampyeong Yedeok-ri Gobungun and Gwangju Weolgye-dong Janggobun (gobun refers ancient tombs or burial mounds) to study the ancient history of Mahan and Jeolla Province. Next to the hall, the UHEH has all sorts of photographs, pictures and documents regarding the history of CNU including the pictures showing the whole view of the university in 1960 and the college of Humanities in 1956, and even materials about the activities of CNU members participating in the pro-democracy movement. Through those artifacts, we can know about the university’s 55-year history.
▲ Mahan section
Special Exhibition: Indian Miniature Paintings
The museum sometimes offered a variety of special exhibitions in the UHEH. This year’s special exhibition was “Indian Miniature Paintings” from August 24 to October 31, 2007. This special exhibition, which was held for the 55th commemoration of the founding of the university, was a socio-cultural activity to help people understand ‘India, Indians and Indian culture’. As you know, India is one of the four countries which are rapidly developing and growing in the world called ‘CHINDIA’ and ‘BRICs’.
Indian miniature paintings combine Indian traditional elements with exotic ones. Portraits of kings and queens and pictures of court ceremonies such as the King’s Parade and a wedding ceremony are the main subjects of Indian miniature paintings. The works such as Krishna and Radha, Shahjahan, the Mumm Taj Maha and Out in the Night with a Full Moon give us an opportunity to enjoy delicate Indian paintings. Jeong Sol-li (Freshman, Dept. of Early Childhood Education) said, “Appreciating various Indian miniature paintings is a special opportunity to know Indian culture through pictures. I wish the museum will hold more special exhibitions.”
We can see permanent and special exhibitions in the museum and also participate in several cultural programs like the Cultural Lecture Series and Cultural Heritage Investigation. The general public and CNU members can participate in the lectures, which start each semester with a new subject and occur for two hours once a week. The current theme of the lecture series is about India. About eighty participants in these lectures could study Indian Miniature Paintings, the Indus civilization and Indian music and movies. After finishing the lectures, participants will go to India, the country dealt by the Cultural Lecture Series, for Cultural Heritage Investigation during the vacation.
The theme of the previous semester was the history and culture of Mongolian nomads. The participants who went to Mongolia said that they had memorable experiences through field investigation. Bark Gyeong-suk (Master’s Course Student, Dept. of Anthropology) said, “I could know many things through participating in the museum’s programs. I got an opportunity to approach other cultures in the world through them. You will get various experiences and knowledge of other cultures by taking the lectures and carrying out the field investigation. It is a pity that most participants in the programs are graduate students and the general public. I wish CNU’s undergraduate students would more actively participate in the programs operated by the museum.”
The UM plays a pivotal role to promote regional culture through its various activities such as collection, preservation of relics and research. The Museum has also published the book Ancient Documents. It is open to everybody from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except for national holidays and charges no admission.
These days our campus is blanketed with awesome yellow, crimson and brownish autumn leaves. How about visiting the CNU Museum and feeling history? Based on understanding the past, let’s make our better future.
* History of the CNU Museum
The Chonnam National University Museum first opened in the Geumho Building in May, 1957. At that time, it was a university library donated by Dr. Choi Sang-chae, the first president of CNU. In June 2002, the museum was moved to the Yongbong Cultural Center.