National Museum of Contemporary Art

Seoul Grand Park subway station is an extremely busy place, with many entertainment options tucked into a scenic mountainous setting. We previously visited for an afternoon at the National Science Museum. Seoul Land amusement park, as well as the Seoul Zoo, can also be found there. And last weekend, I took my girlfriend to the Seoul Grand Park area to visit Korea’s National Museum of Contemporary Art.

To get there, take exit #4 and walk straight until you reach the large building directly ahead. You will see maps and directional signs all around. Hang a right, and follow the signs and the roadway on foot. If you’re not up for a trek, grab the ski lift type aerial tram for a relaxing ride offering views of the entire Seoul Grand Park area. A one way ride to the zoo or the museum is 5,000 and takes about 10 minutes.

The outside of the museum is littered with an open air sculpture garden, complete with walking paths and plenty of grassy area to unwind and enjoy the interesting shapes. The mountains provide a relaxing backdrop to the outdoor exhibits. However, the looping audio coming from the pirate area of Seoul Land, around the back of the museum and down the hill, is enough to drive you mad. Make it your last stop, and then head inside.

The first thing you will see is an amazing giant stack of TV’s. “The more, the better” is a piece by artist Nam June Paik. It reminds me of something out of the early days of MTV programming. It fills the entire core of the museum, stretching from the ground level up to the skylights at the top.

The permanent exhibits consist of paintings, Korean traditional style paintings, sculptures and photography.

My favorite piece in the museum was a painting by Choi, Ho-chul. “Ulji-ro Loop” is a busy painting. Inside the subway car are depictions of typical Seoul city patrons, much like what you would encounter during the average person’s everyday commute. To the left and right of the subway car are extremely detailed depictions of the surrounding city outside the windows.

The people inside include drunken ajoshis, well dressed ajummas, text book reading and earphone listening students, grocery packing mothers, security guards, suit clad business men and and old man hiding behind a newspaper.

My friend the internet revealed some insight in to the intended meaning of the painting. The faceless corporate soldiers found in the buildings to the left of the subway contrast strongly with the detailed vibrant inhabitants of the more village like rights side. The background shows bulldozers taking down the village, to be replaced by the sky-high apartment towers that dominate portions of the real version of the city. And the riders of the subway all appear physically exhausted. Take from it what you will.

Currently, there are two special exhibitions.

La Sombra Del Habla features pieces from the Museu d’Art Contemprani de Barcelona in Spain. It is a collection of 1960’s and 1970’s avante garde pieces heavily influenced by film and video. Clockwork Orange type stuff. Very strange.

The other is a retrospective of Chung, Chang-Sup, an influential artist in Korean contemporary art. The majority of the exhibit appeared to be pieces from Tak and Meditation. Tak is a Korean paper made from mulberry bark that does not deteriorate. He would lay soaked tak on cotton. As the piece dries, the tak absorbs sap from the cotton. By manipulating this process, he could create pieces of art without using pigments.

The National Museum of Contemporary Art is my favorite museum in Korea so far, and a great way to spend a few hours. And there is never any shortage of things to do at Seoul Grand Park if your looking to kill more time.


~ by ripcitytoseoul on September 25, 2010.

5 Responses to “National Museum of Contemporary Art”

  1. I like that information on Tak. Been here for a long time but have not seen any of the museums. So this seems to be a nice place to start.

    You got an informative blog too.

  2. I like your article, I re-post some of your article but I translate it to Indonesian language, I do mention this blog of course. 🙂

    Actually, I make article about interesting place in Korea based on SBS Running Man Landmark.

  3. […] For more pictures and stories, visit Rip City to Seoul – Museum […]

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