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Contemporary art museum to open 2013

June 15, 2011 - 18:23 By Park Min-young
Construction starts at ex-military spy agency near Cheong Wa Dae

National Museum of Contemporary Art held the groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday for its Seoul branch which will be built at Sogyeok-dong, central Seoul.

About 600 cultural figures including Culture Minister Choung Byoung-gug, MOCA Director Bae Soon-hoon, and Cultural Heritage Administration Administrator Choi Kwang-shik attended the ceremony. The new museum is scheduled to open in 2013 at the former Defense Security Command complex site known as “Gimusa.”

“The museum has gone through many twists and turns. Now the difficult parts are over and we are hoping to open the museum by the end of next year. But we will not handle the construction poorly to meet the scheduled time. If we have to extend the deadline we will, but will make sure to listen to everyone’s opinions,” said Choung at the ceremony. 
The National Museum of Contemporary Art’s groundbreaking ceremony for its Seoul branch Wednesday in Sogyeok-dong. (Yonhap News)

Following media artist Moon Kyung-won’s congratulatory message, artist Seo Tae-kyung showcased a work of video art commemorating the birth of a new museum and artist Hong Seong-min staged a unique fantasy performance titled “Gogh van Alice.” The show was a fusion of a film about Vincent van Gogh, Alice in the Wonderland, a Korean folktale about a turtle and a rabbit, and a traditional mask dance.

The construction of the museum had been mired in controversy after stone steps which belonged to “Jongchinbu,” the office for royal family affairs in the Joseon Dynasty, were unearthed at the site last year. After much discussion, related organizations, including the Seoul Metropolitan City and the Cultural Heritage Administration, approved the plan for the museum on the condition that nothing would be built below the Jongchinbu building site.

The consortium of mp_Art Architects and SIAPLAN Architects & Planners brought out a final plan which downsized two exhibition rooms that would have been located under the Jongchinbu building site. According to the revised plan, the museum’s total exhibition space will be about 110,000 square meters, including public spaces such as halls. The exterior of the former Defense Security Command building, a National Cultural Heritage Site, will be preserved while the interior will be remodeled.

The new museum aims to introduce the diversity of contemporary visual art practices and enable open communication with the public. It will have open courtyards so that visitors can freely walk in from any direction. Along with white cube exhibition halls, the museum will have theaters that showcase performances, music and dance. Site-specific works will be installed in every nook and corner of the museum including the lobbies, stairs, elevators and restrooms so that people can enjoy art all around the museum.

By Park Min-young  (