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MMCA to build Daejeon venue, host joint shows with world’s renowned museums

Lee Kun-hee collection will go on three-year nationwide tour of 10 museums 

April 6, 2022 - 18:13 By Park Yuna
The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea in Seoul (MMCA)

The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea will build its fifth venue in Daejeon and cement ties with internationally renowned museums to promote Korean art as part of its new plan to reach local and international audiences.

The museum’s venue in Daejeon -- the country’s fifth-largest city -- will open in early 2026, occupying the building of the former South Chungcheong provincial government office. Renovation of the modernist building first built in 1932 will start next year, according to the museum.

The museum in Daejeon will be the national museum’s second venue outside of the capital region, following the one in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province.

The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art has three venues in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province -- MMCA Seoul, MMCA Deoksugung and MMCA Gwacheon. The museum added that it will further reinforce the role of MMCA Cheongju as a museum that specializes in restoring artworks.

The three-year plan was announced on Wednesday after Youn Bum-mo was reappointed as the museum director in February for another three-year term. In his first term, Youn initiated a three-year plan to restore the massive video tower by Paik Nam-june, “The More, The Better,” located at MMCA Gwacheon and took the lead in organizing online exhibitions in the face of the pandemic.

“We will continue to expand our venues across the country after Daejeon,” Youn told The Korea Herald. “In terms of Paik Nam-june’s work, we will finish the test-run in a few months and will have a lighting ceremony in September. The video tower will operate at designated time slots afterward.”

The museum will also reinforce international projects promoting Korean art. It will set up a task force in charge of exchanges with global art institutions. The first project will start in November in collaboration with the Korea Foundation and Dartmouth College in the US.

The three entities will host weeklong international symposiums on Korean art, curator workshops and artist talks in Boston. Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art will introduce Korean contemporary ink-and-wash painter Park Dae-sung in fall next year by hosting the 77-year-old artist’s solo exhibition, according to MMCA.

Exhibitions that aim to introduce Korean art globally are planned at several international museums over the coming years. “MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2021” by artist duo Moon Kyung-won and Jeon Joon-ho will travel to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa in Japan in May and “2022 MMCA Asia Project in dOCUMENTA Kassel 15” will be held at Kassel Documenta 15 in July in Germany.

Other international exhibitions include France-based Korean artist Kim Soun-gui’s touring exhibition at ZKM in Germany and MMCA’s joint exhibition “The Space Between: The Modern in Korean Art” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Both shows are slated to open in September. An exhibition that highlights South Korea’s experimental art of the 1960s and 1970s will be held at the Guggenheim in New York in 2023.

The museum will publish in November an English book titled “Korean Art 1900-2020” that analyzes the 120 years of modern and contemporary Korean art. The book’s Korean version was published last year.

The exhibition “MMCA Lee Kun-hee Collection: Masterpieces of Korean Art” featuring artworks donated by the late Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee will tour around the country for three years, showing at 10 public museums, including Gwangju Museum of Art and Gyeongnam Art Museum. The Lee Kun-hee collection exhibition at MMCA Seoul will run through April 13.

By Park Yuna (