Wanna be a wall-climbing ninja, shoot yourself out of a cannon, or spar with a kangaroo? Well, it’s all possible at the Alive Museum in Seoul.
Optical illusion museums are not new in Korea. In fact, I’ve seen many an eye-bending photo floating around the internet for quite a few years now. Using the centuries old trompe l’oeil art technique, these museums “deceive the eye,” and allow you to become part of a 2 dimensional painting, that appears 3D.
Read about our visit to the Fresque des Lyonnais – a HUGE trompe l’oeil painting in Lyon, France.
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Visiting the Alive Museum
I admit that I was a wee bit curious about inserting myself into one of these clever mirages, but had discounted the Alive Museum as being over-touristy, gimmicky and more than a little silly. It wasn’t until, Shirley, a friend from Hong Kong, stopped into Seoul for a few days and insisted we visit, that I made it into one.
It turns out that trick eye museums aren’t just a Korean thing anymore. They’ve now expanded into Singapore, China, Vietnam and Thailand, with the first European location planned for Istanbul, Turkey. Shirley informed me that Hong Kong’s trick art museum was so popular, that it was impossible to get a clear shot without someone else’s body parts in the photo. Kinda defeats the whole purpose of an optical illusion if you ask me…
So what did I think? Well, the Alive Museum is silly and gimmicky, but it also happens to be ridiculously fun, strangely exhausting and kind of complicated. How so?
Well, trick art plays not just with paint, but also with perspectives, and there were a few illusions that we just couldn’t get right. Even though there were example photos and specified zones for getting the best shot, we ended up rolling around on the floor for about 20 minutes trying different angles to no avail.
See? Fun, exhausting and kinda complicated. 😉
Tips for Visiting
The ideal number of people to visit with is 3 or more
I say 3, because there are a few exhibits designed for a pair of people, and you need a third to take the photo. There are staff around to take pictures for you if required, but it’s much more fun with people you already know.
Incidentally, if you’re traveling alone and desperate for some optical illusion pics of your own, it’s still possible to visit. While we were there, a staff member was escorting a single visitor all around the Alive Museum and taking photos for her.
Wear comfortable clothing
Some of the most interesting illusions require you to position yourself on the floor. Wanna look like a wall climbing samurai? Not gonna happen in a skintight mini dress and stilettos.
Visit before 5PM
We visited the Ssamzigil branch of the Alive Museum in touristy Insadong on a Friday, around 4:00 and aside from 3 or 4 other groups, we pretty much had the whole museum to ourselves. By 5:00 though, the museum started to fill up and it became a lot harder to take effective photos.
If there are 2 of you, you’ll need about 2 hours to get through the entire museum properly.
Alive Museum Tickets
There’s actually 2 separate attractions available at the same location: the Alive Museum and the Dynamic Maze. You can choose to do one, or both with a combo ticket.
Regular price Alive Museum Tickets are 12,000 won for adults and children over 36 months of age. You can save some money by booking discounted or combo tickets online:
- Save up to 30% on individual or combo tickets to the Alive Museum and Dynamic Maze on Klook
- Book individual or combo tickets at up to 30% off on Trazy
How to go to the Alive Museum
There are 2 branches of the Alive Museum in Korea. The main branch is in Insadong, and the 2nd is on Jeju Island near the Jungmun Tourist Complex.
Alive Museum Insa-dong
Address: B1-2 floors, Daeil building, Insadong street 12, Jongno-gu, Seoul
From Jonggak Station on Line 1, take Exit 3. Turn left at the Geumgangjehwa Intersection, continue straight for 300 metres and you’ll find it on the right hand side.
From Anguk Station on Line 3, take Exit 6. Walk straight for 150 metres and you’ll find it on your left hand side.
Have you visited a trick art museum in your country? Do you have pics? Share your links in the comments below. We’d love to see them!