Sports cars, the symbols of speed, beauty and elegance
Photo by Oleg Kiriyanov
By Oleg Kiriyanov
From my personal view, Korea lacks serious world-scale museums like the Musee du Louvre of France, the British Museum of the United Kingdom or the State Hermitage Museum of Russia. But Korea managed to compensate it by having a large number of modern museums and exhibitions devoted to different, sometimes unexpected topics and spheres.
One of the most interesting modern museums of Korea is the Samsung Transportation Museum in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, not far from Seoul. Despite its cold and probably too formal name, a visit to the museum's exhibitions becomes interesting, informative and sometimes funny trip.
As it can be easily guessed by the name, the museum's displays are devoted to various means of transportation. Well, this museum can actually be called the Car Museum. Of course besides cars there are some bicycles, motorcycles, even airplanes and trains. But obviously cars dominate the exhibits. You can see here very different cars _ from luxurious sedans to sport cars and so-called ordinary cars affordable by the middle-class.
The museum has several merits. First of all, the whole family can visit it without fear that somebody will be bored. Even those who never drive cars will definitely find it interesting to take a look at cars, which are beautiful masterpieces and not just a comfortable ``way of transportation.''
Cars are no longer a kind of objet d'art; they have become a must-have for ordinary families, losing the exclusiveness they used to have in the past. So, cars displayed in the museum are a combination of history and beauty _ something interesting to everybody.
Second, the museum also serves an educational purpose. As well as regularly held lectures and practical lessons for children, there are special corners and charts explaining how this or that part of a car works. For example, you can sit on a chair, press the brake and see how and why a car slows down. There are also pictures of how different parts of cars (i.e. steering wheel, engines, brakes, etc) have changed through time.
Even if you consider yourself a good car expert, you will find some of this new and useful. At the same time all the information is presented in a way not to make you bored _ you have fun and learn simultaneously.
Third, children who always try to touch everything with their hands and thus have to restrict themselves in ordinary museums will be glad to find that there are plenty of devices which they can operate directly. Though they will not be allowed to drive a real car, there are a lot of real size models of the different parts of a car. These models are especially made for those who want to directly try driving.
The museum consists of two parts _ the open-air exhibition and an inner one.
Do not rush immediately into the building _ pay some attention to the exhibition outside, where you can see a special masterpiece created by Paik Nam-june, the world-renowned Korean artist. His work consists of 32 old cars painted in silver and grouped in different ways. The explanation sign says that to understand the composition, you'd better listen to music by Mozart while observing it.
The open-air exposition of the museum has also some big-sized displays _ two airplanes and a train _ to remind visitors that it is not only a museum for cars but also of other means of transportation.
Inside there are a lobby, main hall and the second floor exhibition space. In the lobby visitors will probably be impressed by an engine disassembled into parts and hanging in the air. It shows very well how complicated the heart of a car is. Also this part of museum has a few really unique models _ the prototype of all cars _ the Mercedes Patent Motor Car of 1889 and the Curved Dash Oldsmobile. Besides them there are also some other old cars made between the 1920s and 1950s.
The main exhibition hall is divided into five parts. It would not be a big mistake to say that the main displays, the main pride of the Samsung Transportation Museum are in the main hall.
The first part of the hall is devoted to the symbols of speed, beauty and elegance _ sport cars from many famous automakers and companies. The second part consists of automobiles which were the proof of wealth and power _ cars used by kings, queens, presidents, ambassadors and politicians.
The third part shows the era of mass production cars, starting with the legendary Model-T Ford and one of the most popular cars of all times, the Volkswagen Beetle. The latter one was produced from 1945 until 2003, setting an unbeaten record. The number of ``Beetles'' produced in the world exceeds 21.5 million.
The two other parts of the main hall are devoted to motorcycles and cars produced by Korean companies in the past.
Move to the last part of the museum _ the second floor _ and you will enter the world of car racing. Besides some models of racing cars, there is also a display showing a service center for racing cars.
Besides these halls, the museum has a cinema hall where you can watch car-related movies, a simulator where you can experience almost all the emotions you feel while driving a real sports car, and numerous other devices and displays explaining the principle of car movements and function.
In conclusion, it is possible to say once again: the Samsung Transportation Museum is a place of interest for everybody _ children, women, and men. It does not matter if you come alone or with the whole family or a group of friends _ this trip will never be a waste of time.
The museum has one more important merit: it is located very close to the amusement park Everland. Thus you may kill two birds with one stone if you decide to combine visits to those two interesting places.