Looking for new adventure outside of Seoul? Do you line art and nature? How about a museum with amazing indor and outdoor spaces?
SANstands for Space, Art, and Nature. Built by Hansol Cultural Foundation in the picturesque Wonju Oak Valley, the museum offers a terrific experience for all senses. Space is designed by the renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando in his signature minimalistic style.
Getting to the museum is not easy, as it’s in Wonju, Gangwon-do, two hours away from Seoul. Combining the visit to this fantastic museum experience with Wonju Hanji Experience Theme Park, Youngwol Y Park, and Sogeumsan Suspension Bridge is a perfect day trip outside of Seoul.
Welcome Center | 웰컴센터
The beautiful Welcome Center of Museum SAN is where your journey starts. There you will get a glimpse of what might come up. Have high expectations for what the expensive ticket to the museum will offer you.
The Welcome Center feels a bit seclusive as it’s surrounded by stone walls built with Paju stone. The parking lot is partly covered with grass and naturally blends in with the Welcome Center.
A walking path goes to the Flower Garden, the Water Garden, the Main Building, through the Stone Garden, and finally to the James Turrell’s art gallery. If you are visiting with a group, go ahead and explore alone, or wait a bit. It’s worth enjoying the picturesque views with not so many people around you. Better for great photos too.
Flower Garden | 플라워 가든
The Flower Garden is the first open space area of the museum. A vast field covered with China pinks, dominated by contrasting red sculpture. This big, funky, bold sculpture grabs visitors’ attention. A wide path leads to a white birch forest. A stone wall that you have to walk along hides the next grand space of the open space museum. It only gets better and more dramatic.
Sculpture Garden | 조각공원
The Sculpture Garden is dedicated to the sculptures of world-renowned artists such as Antony Caro. The art is not intrusive and peacefully compliments the beauty of nature and thoughtful landscaping.
Water Garden | 워터 가든
Water surrounds the main building of the museum and creates the feeling that you are about to approach a fortress. It’s a fortress dedicated to paper, so water has a significant role in molding and preserving it. The ponds are shallow, and you can see the pebbled bottom and walls.
The Museum Building | 뮤지엄 본관
The museum building is surrounded by the Sculpture, Water, and Stone Gardens. The building itself reminds me a bit of the Japanese castle wall structures. The way the interior is designed is reminiscent of what might be considered the Egyptian pyramid chamber labyrinth. What makes the whole architectural composition so exciting is how the sturdy feeling of the unrefined stone facade of the building contrasts with what’s displayed inside – fragile, sophisticated paper.
The interior of the main building is discreetly light with natural light that comes through the masterfully designed window openings.
“Stone Garden Entrance”
Paper Gallery | 종이갤러리
The Paper Gallery is organized by Hansol Paper Museum, Korea’s first paper museums dedicated to collecting, researching, and preserving books and paper art and craftwork. The display showcases beautiful art pieces and objects made of paper. There’s an interactive installation that visualizes the interaction between paper and ink. There’s also a very lovely Print Workshop where you can learn how to engrave and find out about different ways of printmaking.
The Cheong-jo Gallery exhibits modern and contemporary Korean art and print.
“Paper bag at display”
“Paper Printing Machine”
Infinity Cafe | 카페 테라스
The coffee shop might be one of the most photographed areas of the museum SAN. On the way out to the Stone Garden, you can pass through a coffee shop with stunning outdoor seating. You can enjoy coffee or tea by an infinity pool with the beautiful hilly mountains surrounding Wonju Oak Valley.
Meditation Room | 명산관
The meditation room is the latest addition to the SAN Museum complex. It’s a dome-shaped building, just a couple of steep down from the entrance to the Cheong-ja Gallery on the side of Stone Garden. I didn’t make it to the meditation area, but I guess it will be as lovely as the rest of the museum.
Stone Garden | 스톤 가든
If you have traveled around Korea, this part of the museum will remind you of the Shilla royal tombs. There are nine stone mounts spread around the stone garden. Sculptures of renowned artists make the walk around the garden even more enjoyable. The stone garden is extra beautiful during the golden hour or at sunset.
James Turrell Gallery | 제임스 터렐
The beautiful journey exploring extraordinary SAN Museum ends at James Turrell Gallery, another masterpiece building featuring spaces like Sky Space, Horizon Room, Ganzfeld, and Wedgework. James Turrell is an American artist, well known internationally for his light and space artwork. His works play with perception and light to reimagine time and space.
Nothing is better than an actual visit to Museum SAN. Watch my short overview of the day trip to the museum premises:
How to get to SAN Museum
SAN Museum is not so easy to reach. Like every place in Korea, it is accessible by car, train, or bus. From Seoul, it might take from 2 to 4 hours to reach. Make sure you will have enough time to spend in the museum (at least 2-3 hours) and to return to Seoul.
Getting to the museum is not too easy as it’s 2 hours away from Seoul. Take 2nd Yeongdong Expressway towards West Wonju. It’s around 100 km, and depending on traffic can take from 1h30min to 2h.
Take KTX Sancheon from Seoul or Cheongnyangni station to Manjong Station. Note, some trains do not start at Seoul Station, so it’s better to check for the actual train time table. From Manjong Station you can take a taxi to SAN Museum that will cost around ₩20,000 one way. If you plan well and call for a taxi at least 30 min before arriving at Manjong Station, the combined travel time might be shorter or equal to traveling by car.
Take an express bus from Express Bus Terminal in Seoul to Wonju Express Bus Terminal. It takes 1h30min and costs from ₩7,700 to ₩13,500 depending on the bus company and level of comfort. There are a couple of bus options from Wonju Express Bus Terminal – Oak Valley Tour bus and Local City bus. Check Wonju shuttle bus schedule for stops location and exact time.
260, Oakvalley 2-Gil, Jijeong-myeon
Wonju-si, Gangwon-do 220-821
Museum 10:00 – 18:00 (last admission 17:00)
James Turrell 10:30 – 17:30
Closed every Monday
Museum (Paper gallery + Cheongjo gallery)
Adults : ₩18,000
Students : ₩10,000
James Turrell Ticket (Museum + J.T)
Adults : ₩28,000
Students : ₩18,000
Meditation Ticket (Museum + Meditation)
Adults : ₩28,000
Students : ₩18,000
Master Ticket (Museum + J.T + Meditation)
Adults : ₩30,000
Students : ₩20,000