Near the end of 2013, years of construction finally came to a close and the Seoul branch of Korea's Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art opened. Located next to Gyeongbok Palace in my favorite area of Seoul, this new museum offers excellent exhibits that range from sculptures, paintings, and interactive installations. I happily spent a few hours there recently and I highly recommend checking it out while you're in Seoul!
Two other branches of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art already exist in Korea: Gwacheon and Deoksugung, and a fourth branch is still under construction Cheongju. The museum features art from Korean artists as well as international artists, with an impressive range of pieces.
Personally, I'm not always a big fan of modern art, but I was very impressed with the pieces in the Seoul branch. I can't wait to go back actually, especially once the exhibits turnover and new pieces are brought in.
As soon as we arrived, I was immediately impressed with the museum and its staff. We got there a little after 5pm, ready to pay the 7,000 won admission for all exhibits. The staff politely stopped us from paying, informing us that after 6pm, admission to the museum was free. Not wanting to kill time for 45 minutes, we went ahead a paid for admission, but I definitely respect their kindness and honesty. If anything, it made me even more willing to support the museum with my 7,000 won.
The pieces are spread well throughout the museum, from gallery rooms featuring a traveling exhibition to installations on the walls of the hallways or hanging from the ceiling. I was unsure of the picture-taking policy of the museum, as I didn't spot any of the typical "No Photography" signs, so I snapped pictures as we went so I could show off the range of art the museum offers.
Entrance to one of the galleries.
The Zeitgeist Korea exhibit currently occupies two galleries. Some of my favorite pieces were part of this exhibit -- really expressive paintings and creative techniques. (The Zeitgeist Korea exhibit was the one place where I hesitated to take photos -- my gut instinct told me that it wasn't at all allowed, but I still don't know for sure.)
Outside of the rooms holding exhibits, the next photos should give you an idea of the art that's on (and in) the walls of the hallways:
Huge installation on a hallway wall in the museum.
Performance art in the form of an opera singer. The information on the wall said the artist found great comfort in Schubert's Lieder, so this interactive performance art was set up. The listener, seated in the chair, would be given the gift of song by one of the hired opera singers. This guy had a beautiful voice and we were mesmerized by this performance.
Don't forget to look up! This thing was moving, too!
Going back into the galleries, we came across more interactive pieces that allowed patrons to walk around in the middle of the installations:
Projectors in the four corners of the room lit up all these big rectangles with images.
This huge, intricate piece looked like it was made with pieces of plastic trash, but it was full of sensors that would make the piece move in response to the movements of the patrons walking around.
It was definitely weird, but it also just looked so cool.
This room had a story being displayed on all four walls and in order to (try to) read it all, we had to quickly spin on the spot to chase the words around the room. This is just a portion of one wall.
My favorite piece in the whole museum was this one, entitled "Home Within Home Within Home Within Home Within Home," by Do Ho Suh. Believe it or not, this giant, detailed blue structure is made of fabric. The outer structure is a Western-style townhouse and inside, there's a smaller structure hanging from the ceiling that is in the style of a traditional Korean home.
The line to get in.
Directions: Anguk Station Exit 1, Gyeongbokgung Station Exit 6, or Gwanghwamun Station Exit 2. Handy map can be found here.
Admission: 7,000 won for all exhibits, either 3,000 or 5,000 for individual exhibits. Free admission for special exhibitions on Museum Day -- last Wednesday of every month.
Hours: Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sun - 10:00am~6:00pm, Wed & Sat - 10:00am~9:00pm (and free after 6:00pm!), closed Mon & national holidays.
Between studying Japanese and Asian culture in university and setting her sights on a teaching career, it came as no surprise when Zannah Smreker announced that she was moving to South Korea to teach for Chungdahm Learning. In November 2011, Zannah accepted a position through Aclipse with the Songdo branch in Incheon, just southwest of Seoul. When she's not teaching, she keeps herself busy with exploring Korea, eating all the street food, and hunting down strange Engrish shirts. Check out her blog here for more of her adventures!