▲ The Yongcheondonggul Lava Tube: Wonders and Stories exhibit at Jeju National Museum offers an intimate exploration of a part of the island that few have seen. Left photo courtesy Jeju Special Self-Governing Province. Photos right by Sarah Warren
Opening day of the Yongcheondonggul Lava Tube: Wonders and Stories exhibit at the Jeju National Museum started off slowly on the morning of June 16 in Jeju City. But as the first school group quickly trickled into the museum around 11 a.m., the pitter-patter of small feet, headed with curious eyes and minds, soon flooded the exhibition area.
When I read that the entrance was made to look and feel like the cave itself, my interest was piqued. Even the entrance from outside has been transformed into a lava tube, followed by a second more elaborate lava tube sculpture a few feet further into the exhibit.
As you walk through the second sculpture, your ears are also caught by sounds of underwater breathing and bubbling, volcanic explosions and gurgling lava flows. As you turn the corner a video to match these sounds is found inside a small box-shaped room, where if you stand inside you can experience surround sound, ultimately immersing you in the places shown on the screen.
Like most museums, you may then continue on into the exhibit, finding introductory images and explanations about Jeju’s natural phenomenon and where Yongcheon Lava Tube sits amidst these wonders. Some images are quite astounding, unfortunately however, unless you are Hangeul-savvy, you won’t really know what you’re looking at. Artifacts retrieved from the cave are mostly labeled in English, but not entirely.
Several maps and timelines are also displayed to help in understanding the cave’s history – or what little they know of it. Fortunately, images are provided, but again, no English explanations to help the curious foreigner.
An interesting display is the long wall exhibiting the cave in detailed microscopic form. It exhibits a map of the cave, displaying measurements and timelines. However, again, it’s hard to really know unless you understand the language.
A popular station is the 3D video exhibit. Here you can put on pair of 3D glasses, take a seat and watch a three-minute video about Jeju and Yongcheon Lava Tube – in Hangeul.
Next are several displays of fossils, recovered tools and ironware, earthen pots, and animal bones of the Unified Silla period, along with more maps and images. The final display is a pig skeleton and an underwater video. The underwater video is quite interesting because it guides you along the underwater lake, passing over pots, bones, tools, etc.
Although the exhibit is short and sweet, it’s warming to learn that such wondrous places like Yongcheon Lava Tube are still to be discovered today. This is yet another example of the many wonders Jeju has and has yet to offer.
Commemorating Jeju National Museum’s 10th anniversary and the four year anniversary of Yongcheon Lava Tube as a World Natural Heritage monument, the Yongcheondonggul Lava Tube: Wonders and Stories exhibit will run until Aug. 21.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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