Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gwanghwa-mun: cultural hub of Seoul city of South Korea

Two new landmarks are coming to one of Seoul’s most frequented areas this year, shedding light on Korea’s contemporary arts and culture. Built in the proximity of Gwanghwamun Square, the Seoul Annex of the National Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History will transform the already culturally-rich district into the ultimate destination for arts and culture.

UUL National Art Museum Seoul at the forefront of promoting Korean artists

On February 21, the National Museum of Contemporary Art (www.moca.go.kr) held a press briefing with recently-appointed museum director Chung Hyung-min in attendance on the museum’s development strategy and future policy direction.

UUL National Art Museum Seoul (image courtesy of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea)

That day, the NMOCA representatives reported on the progress of the national museum’s much-anticipated Seoul branch, UUL National Art Museum Seoul (www.uul.go.kr), slated to pre-open this October. Built on a former military facility east of Gyeongbokgung Palace, the museum will house three floors of contemporary art along with educational spaces, digital archives, and other facilities, including a cinemathèque and a restaurant-café.

“We expect about 2 million people to visit the museum annually,” said Yoon Nam-soon, NMOCA’s Director of Planning and Management. “The multi-faceted garden will be open 24 hours a day, in line with the museum’s objective to become an audience-friendly space.”

Chung Hyung-min (left), the newly appointed director of the National Museum of Contemporary Art (NMOCA), and the first woman to lead the national art museum, emphasized the museum’s three key functions: exhibition, education, and research. “Our ultimate goal is to organize professional quality exhibitions that are inclusive of and easily accessible to a general audience. The museum spares no effort to reinforce the function of education in this regard.”

Director Chung aspires to take full advantage of the location, which enjoys one of the highest flows of inbound foreign visitors in Seoul, as well as young audiences, and make it an open museum for all.

As an art historian, she also expressed her will to further systemize the museum’s archives. “Upon a thorough analysis of the archives, the museum will expand its collection beyond paintings and sculpture to photography, architecture, and etching,” said the new NMOCA director.

Director Chung added that Deoksugung Palace Annex of the national museum is currently undergoing minor remodeling until early May to transform the museum into an art space specializing in the exhibition and conservation of Korea’s modern art. Located in the vicinity of Deoksugung Palace, UUL will further focus on promoting contemporary art from both home and abroad.

On February 14, the NMOCA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the British Council Korea to promote diverse exchanges in the realms of arts and education. In conjunction with the initiation of a bilateral partnership, the two organizations co-hosted an art talk entitled “Between Art & Audience” through February 15. From the UK side, Director of Audiences and Media Marc Sands and Curator Sookyung Lee of Tate, along with Director Tom Trevor of Arnolfini, took part in the seminar, and discussed efforts to “bring the arts to a wider audience.”

Contemporary history represented with state-of-the art technology

A national museum dedicated to the 60-year history of the Republic of Korea will open this December, across from the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.

The National Museum of Korean Contemporary History seen from Gwanghwamun Square (image courtesy of the Committee for the Establishment of the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History)

Initiated under President Lee Myung-bak’s Liberation Day address on August 15, 2008, the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History (www.museumrok.go.kr) will bring Korea’s historic achievements over the past six decades into the exhibition rooms, in a bid to pass on the legacy of the older generations.

The museum will be built on the grounds of the old Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism building upon remodeling. The museum complex will make the most of Korea’s contemporary art, jazzing it up with cutting-edge technology that will maximize museum-goers’ experience.

Exhibition halls bring moments of history to life with cutting-edge technology.

The exhibition halls will feature four themes: the birth of the Republic of Korea resulting in years of the Independence Movement under Japanese colonial rule, its postwar establishment, the country’s economic growth and democratic movement, and finally the advancement of Korea in the global era. The museum is set to offer exhibitions in cyberspace, allowing a wider audience to get a glimpse of Korea’s contemporary history from all corners of the world with just a few clicks.

The entrance facing Gwanghwamun Square will become a reproduction of Korea’s old streets, with hands-on activities and outdoor exhibitions. From the rooftop garden, visitors will be able to enjoy stunning views of Gwanghwamun Square and Gyeongbokgung Palace.

The open space of the museum will unveil diverse activities for the audience.

Upon opening, the two national museums will be joining a community already brimming with arts and culture, also known as the Sejong Belt (www.sejongbelt.com) formed around at the heart of the Korean capital near Gwanghwamun Square.


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