Korea’s leading national and public art museums are spreading throughout the country by opening new branches. The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) currently has four different locations, including the Seoul, Gwacheon, Deoksugung, and Cheongju branches, and plans to open additional visible storage in Daejeon in 2026. Running five museum branches makes the MMCA one of Asia’s largest art museums in terms of the number of branches.
Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA), one of the leading public art museums in Seoul, will also add three other venues to its umbrella. The museum currently runs seven venues, including the Seosomun Main Branch, Buk-Seoul Museum of Art, Nam-Seoul Museum of Art, Nanji Residency, SeMA Bunker, SeMA Storage, and SeMA Nam June Paik Memorial House.
Seoul Museum of Art Art Archives is scheduled to open in Pyeongchang-dong this December. The Seo-Seoul Museum of Art will be the first public art museum in the southwest region of Seoul, and the Seoul Museum of Photography will open in Dobong-gu. In addition to this, the city government will add a museum storage building in Hoengseong, Gangwon-do Province, for the collections of all museums affiliated with Seoul City.
The Seoul Museum of Photography, planned to be opened in 2023, will be the first public art museum in Korea with a focus on the photography genre. By November 2021, SeMA had collected around twelve thousand pieces of photos, films, and related collections. The collection focuses on landscape and portrait photos that portray life from the 1950s to the 1980s, artworks that are meaningful to the field’s history, and works that require conservation and are essential for preserving visual arts and culture.
The Seo-Seoul Museum of Art, scheduled to open in 2024 in front of the Geumcheon-gu Office, will specialize in media art that uses cutting-edge technology, such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), and big data. The museum will not only exhibit these works but also provide various information and education related to its collection.
The Seo-Seoul Museum of Art has acquired about forty media artworks from 2020, including Yunchul Kim’s Argos and Yangachi’s eGovernment. To add more artworks to its collection, the museum has received 420 entries recommended by internal and external experts, and the final process for the acquisition is currently underway.
Beck Jee-sook, general director of SeMA, set the agenda as “collection” in 2020, aiming to build a strong museum identity by collecting and researching artworks, gathering information and archival materials, and therefore, strengthening the museum’s role and functions.
Under the umbrella of SeMA, the branches focusing on different fields in contemporary art are expected to strengthen the museum’s collections, encompassing a wide range of artworks, including performance, painting, sculpture, photography, and digital art. Through this, it is expected to complement Korean contemporary art history, build a robust museum identity, and provide a multifaceted program.
SeMA has collected a total of 5,572 artworks. Among the artworks made after the 2000s, 50.7 percent are Korean contemporary art, and 31.9 percent are works by female artists.
The agenda of the museum for 2021 and 2022 is “network.” SeMA will present a new museum model through an art entity in which each branch is organically connected with the Seosomun main branch,” said Director Beck.