On one of my walks around Vienna this week, I came across a colorful poster for a new exhibit at the city’s Weltmuseum (the largest anthropological museum in Austria).
Being obsessed with reading, the poster caught my eye due to its large stack of books.
Upon closer perusal, I was fascinated to learn the Weltmuseum currently has an exhibit on the subject of Chaekgeori — a style of Korean still life painting featuring displays of books and other personal objects.
Something I must admit I have been fascinated with for years, since I began to watch YouTube videos and could see the bookshelves of the person hosting them displayed behind them.
The Weltmuseum exhibit is called ‘책거리 Chaekgeori – Our shelves Our selves’, and is partially being held in celebration of the 130th anniversary of Austrian-Korean diplomatic relations.
The exhibit will be held in three gallery rooms at the Weltmuseum, with the museum describing the exhibit’s paintings this way:
In Korea, chaekgeori (Korean: 책거리, translation “books and things”) designates a painted arrangement of books, shelves, various objects, and small treasures. This kind of painting has its origins in the Chinese tradition of collecting things such as the writings of Confucius, scrolls adorned with calligraphy or paintings, ancient ritual vessels, and decorative objects – and in the high esteem accorded them.
Also beloved among Chinese collectors were depictions of flowers and animals, such as butterflies, mandarin ducks, carp, cranes, deer, as well as lotus blossoms, peonies, chrysanthemums, peaches, pomegranates, melons, and the citron, Citrus medicus, also known as ‘Buddha’s hand’.
These motifs express positive wishes for health, happiness, wealth, and freedom from want. But their depictions are also often playful, inviting their viewers to seek and identify them in the paintings.
The 책거리 Chaekgeori – Our shelves Our selves exhibit will be at Vienna’s Weltmuseum from now until 1st November, 2022.
The museum is open from 10am until 6pm every day except Wednesdays, with Tuesdays offering an extended opening to 9pm.
If you are interested in 책거리 Chaekgeori – Our shelves Our selves (and, as an obsessed reader of all kinds of books, I definitely am), the Weltmuseum is located at Heldenplatz in Vienna.
You will find information about tickets to the Weltmuseum on the museum’s website.
If you speak German, there is also a video from the Weltmuseum introducing the 책거리 Chaekgeori – Our shelves Our selves exhibit down below that is well worth a watch.
If you don’t, it is still possible to get a general idea of the contents of the video by using the auto-generated English subtitles.