Be a Part of Art: Hongdae’s Trick Eye Museum

Seoul is a city for art lovers. From sculpture gardens to galleries, the city is full of cultural spaces dedicated to all things artsy. Hongdae is a neighborhood particularly known for its art scene, with many of its residents being design students at Hongik University. All the others no doubt appreciate the vibrant murals, street performers, and interesting exhibits that are ever-present within the demarcation of the area.

One museum particularly stands out from the others in quirky Hongdae. The Trick Eye Museum, located in the Santorini Seoul multicultural complex, offers visitors the unique opportunity to actually become a part of the art on display. Using the technique of trompe l’oeil, famous works of art have been fabricated to create the illusion that the objects in the images are three dimensional. Many of them have had props or features added to make them more comical, thus creating a slew of incredible photo ops.

I had visited this museum a few years ago with my mom, but headed back recently with a group of my friends to see what had changed, as well as check out the Love Museum and the Ice Museum, two new recent additions to the attraction.

The Trick Eye Museum featured various rooms, each with a different theme. We spotted some well-known works in the first few rooms, like Edvard Munch’s The Scream, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and a rather chubby replica of Michelangelo’s David.

Further into the exhibit, we found ourselves in various situations and destinations that encouraged us to interact with the art. We traveled around the world, climbing bamboo trees with pandas in China and flying hot air balloons over Europe. There was even a cool exhibit where we put ourselves right into a Mortal Combat-esque video game.

After totally cheesing out, we headed to the Ice Museum, which is on the same floor of the main museum. This was rather small but very cool (more like freezing) and was complete with a slew of igloos, a carriage and even a toilet all made out of ice. The best part was the ice slide which visitors can play on for as long as they desire (or at least until hypothermia sets in).

Finally, we made our way to the Love Museum in the basement (additional ₩8,000). For the sake of my friends, I won’t post many of the photos we took here, as they are quite discriminating. This is definitely an adult-only museum which features hilarious scenes, giant dingalings, and lifelike paintings of people in pornographic poses which you can interact with for your photographs.

It was a lot of fun taking our pictures in front of the funny photos of the galleries of the Trick Eye Museum, but it was also comical to see others doing the same. It was obvious everyone—families, couples, tour groups—was enjoying themselves. It’s a great spot to check out if you’re in the area.

To make sure you get the best pictures, follow the tips below: 

Be sure your camera is fully charged and that you have plenty of space on your card… you’ll need it.

Turn off your camera flash and keep still while taking your photos.

Stand on the photo points while taking photos of each art exhibit. Photo points show the best angles and distance that maximize 3D effect on photos.

Close one of your eyes when looking at the exhibit. When your viewpoint is fixed optical illusion effect is stronger.

Observe exhibits from a short distance so you can experience a more vivid three dimensional effect.

More Information (Updated June 2015)

Address: 20 Hongik-ro 3-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea [서울특별시 마포구 홍익로3길 20 (서교동)]

Telephone: 02-3144-6300

Hours: Daily from 9am-9pm (Last admission 8pm)

Admission: ₩15,000 won for adults, ₩12,000 for kids

To Get There: Take the subway to Hongik University (Line 2). From Exit 9, walk straight then turn left at the first main intersection. Walk until you reach H&M on the left. Cross the main street on your right and go down the alley to the right of Holika Holika. Continue walking for one minute and Santorini Seoul will be on your right. Look for the lifelike girl walking on the roof.


Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.