Museum for All, the National Folk Museum’s efforts to bridge the gap in viewing

Introduction to the National Folk Museum

The National Folk Museum of Korea is a representative living and culture museum in Korea, and since its opening in 1946, it has been striving to collect, preserve, exhibit, and systematically investigate and research Korean folk materials. Exhibitions and educational programs are provided to show what kind of life we have lived in this land, what the living goods are in the process, what the symbols
and meanings expressed in those living goods are for, and the folk culture in our lives in an easy to understand. Average annual visitors are 140 million (before COVID-19)~It was 430,000 (after COVID-19), and before COVID-19, 60 foreign visitors accounted for 60%. In the case of domestic visitors, as of 2021, 46% of visitors in their 20s, 70% of visitors on weekends, and 82% of visitors from the Seoul metropolitan area. The National Folk Museum of Korea is also trying to find practical ways to bridge the gap as academic discussions on equal viewing
rights, such as museums for all and universal design, become more active. As part of this, permanent exhibition halls 2 and 3 reorganized in 2021 will provide exhibition interpretation media such as Braille panels, tactile maps, large-letter books, and tactile exhibits, and a barrier-free exhibition space such as fortune-telling for the visually impaired people and video sign language commentary for hard-of-hearing people

Museum for All, the National Folk Museum’s efforts to bridge the gap in viewing

With changes in the definition and exhibition functions of the museum, visitors have expanded from specific classes such as scholars, artists, and aristocrats to the general public. In the second half of the 20th century, the museum began its efforts to “develop visitors” to actively attract visitors, and now it is trying to become a museum that embraces and cares for everyone regardless of gender, age, nationality, cultural background, or disability. I would like to introduce how the National Folk Museum of Korea has responded to the changes in museums for visitors, visitors, and visitors. Since the early 2000s, the National Folk Museum has been striving to provide an equal viewing experience so that anyone can enjoy all the programs and services of the museum, aiming for an open museum.
In particular, various attempts have been made to expand the accessibility of the of blind people. In 2004, offline, a permanent exhibition hall and a children’s museum Braille brochure were provided, and an Internet homepage for blind people was opened online to enhance the convenience of viewing. In particular, the children’s museum Braille brochure for visually impaired children uses the background color as a primary color so that not only blind students but also low-visibility students can experience the exhibition, and various three-dimensional image materials are added to allow them to be touched by hand and viewed indirectly. Since then, various online and offline programs such as online sign language commentary have been provided to relieve blind people’s sense of distance from the museum.

In 2021, permanent exhibition halls 2 and 3 were newly reorganized, and viewing devices for visually impaired people were installed in the exhibition hall. If the existing Braille Flet was a passive device that disabled visitors had to find themselves through a separate process called the information desk, the Braille panel, tactile map, and tactile exhibits installed this time can be said to be an active device aimed at enjoying a barrier-free culture. Braille panels including braille were introduced to panels explaining the themes of each part, and large text books for visually impaired people and older adults were provided together to help visually impaired people understand the exhibition in an equal position to the general public. In addition, tactile exhibits made with 3D printers were placed on the same line as the display case and exhibition data location so that visually impaired people could touch and view the exhibits. It can be said that it was an active attempt compared to the existing method of providing an educational program using tactile materials or a separate exhibition space for tactile exhibits. The meaningful attempt to place viewing services for disabled people directly inside the exhibition hall was well received not only by disabled people but also by the general public. In particular, it is used as a good educational material for children who want to touch relics. Blind spots also exist in viewing services for disabled people provided by the National Folk Museum. Attempts to narrow the digital gap, such as voice commentary on the video that filled the exhibition hall, are still insufficient. It is recent that exhibition techniques using digital technology have appeared and been applied to museum exhibitions, but the video goes beyond auxiliary materials to help understand the exhibition and becomes an exhibition itself like a realistic content exhibition. However, there is no video commentary service for blind people and hard-of-hearing people. In addition, compared to services for visually impaired people, viewing devices for hard-of-hearing people and physically disabled people are still insufficient. In addition, there is no government-level manual for building barrier-free exhibition halls, regular reviews such as surveys of disabled visitors, and continuous monitoring of disabled organizations are not yet in the stage to say that museum viewing services are systematic for everyone. Of course, the museum’s efforts continue. The special exhibition of “Happiness of That Winter”, which will open on November 15, will introduce a new interpretation medium for blind people as well as a sign language commentary on video exhibits for hard-of-hearing people. In the future, the National Folk Museum will continue to make various attempts to build a barrier-free exhibition hall for blind people, sound commentary service for hard-of-hearing people, voice amplifiers, FM hearing aids, and wheelchairs for disabled people.

About the Author: Oh, Aran

She is a curator of the National Folk Museum of Korea and is in
charge of exhibition planning such as the Realistic Special Exhibition
and the Rabbit Year Special Exhibition. She earned a master’s
degree as a major in history education at Korea University, and is
interested in interdisciplinary research in museum and history
education, including museum exhibitions and the impact of education
on visitors’ perception of history.

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