It was a mild sunny summer day for August when I visited Ms. Bae’s place, the Seoul Owl Museum. Indeed this is an owl’s wonderland. The curator, Ms. Bae Myung-hee, got interested in owl souvenirs on a middle school trip and since then she has ended up collecting owl-related souvenirs for about 30 years. One day, she found that she had a lot of stuff related to owls.
Learning about personal museums in other countries, she decided to set up her own museum. To set up the museum, she collected owl-related souvenirs by asking from place to place, and later, she started collecting them more purposefully. She has gotten a lot of help from her family. Her husband and eldest son buy things for her whenever they go abroad on a business trip or language training.
And her second son, who is majoring in design, has been in charge of decorating the museum, creating the owl logo, painting walls, and so on. Of course, there have been some problems, as she has made every effort - time and money-wise - and has had a hard time building up her museum. She has endured hard times when she wanted to give up during all her preparation. But she was able to endure these hard times because the museum had such an important meaning for her.
At first, she wanted to just show her collection, inform other people about owls, and do something related to owls. Now, a few months after opening her museum, she is getting more benefits than she expected. To maintain her museum she charges admission, but her purpose is not money. If she ran a cafe instead of a museum, it would make money for her. However, she does not want to ruin the pure purpose of her Owl Museum.
Regardless of money, she feels self-satisfaction because she has her own job, and she will be able to continue doing it after retirement. And she is even more proud of herself for helping Koreans become more familiar with owls, as well as attracting foreign sightseers who bring profit to the Korean economy, even though it’s not so big.
Above all, when children come here, they watch and draw owls by them-selves. As she thinks about how she gives them an opportunity to do this, she really feels happy. When she looks at their parents’ smiles, even wider than their children’s, she feels still happier.
She comes back home exhausted and go to bed in the late night, but opens her Owl Museum’s doors as soon as she wakes up. Yet the owl mom opens the doors with a happy smile today.
Today, some of us may be interested in collecting or may be a collector already. But it is necessary that we spend some time and money on improving our collection before we show it to others.
Collecting can also be a way of expressing ourselves. Even if collecting is not your hobby, if you choose a field to represent yourself to others, it will be another source of achievement to you in this difficult world.