The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA), South Korea’s largest public art museum, announced that Yun Bummo will once again lead the museum over the next three years. Yun’s previous term ended last February.
During Yun’s first term in office, the museum aimed to increase public understanding of the development of Korean modern and contemporary art, as well as to become a more audience-friendly space. Now, these objectives will be taken to the next level.
“We will make the MMCA a ‘forward base for the Korean wave of art,’” Yun said in an interview with Korean media outlet DNews while explaining his role during his second term in office. He added that it is time to fully commit to creating a stronger context in Korean modern and contemporary art history and expand its presence on the international stage.
The MMCA has been carrying out an extensive research project on the art history of Korea from 1900 through 2020. One of its results has been the publication of Korean Art: 1900-2020, a 500-page book with more than 400 high-quality photos. The English version will be published this year.
Other projects included exhibitions such as DNA: Dynamic & Alive Korean Art, which presented modern and contemporary artworks alongside traditional pieces to reflect and address the art scene of Korea today, and The Square: Art and Society in Korea 1900–2019, a three-part exhibition illustrating Korean art history from the twentieth century to today through various works and archival materials.
Recently, the museum has been expanding its foothold both inside and outside of the country. The MMCA currently runs four branches and two residencies, all located in the Seoul metropolitan area, except for the Cheongju branch.
In 2025, a new conservation center with various facilities will be opening in Daejeon, the fifth-largest city, located in the central region of South Korea. The new center will take part in offering various cultural experiences for visitors who reside outside the Seoul area.
In addition, important collections and exhibitions such as the recently donated Lee Kun-hee collection will be traveling to other national museums around the country.
But the MMCA’s outreach is not just limited to the country. The museum has been working with various international institutions to bring projects on Korean art to a wider stage.
Avant-Garde: Experimental Art in South Korea in the 1960s–1970s will be held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York to introduce the Korean avant-garde art movement this year. In September, The Space Between: The Modern in Korean Art will be held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which will be the first large-scale exhibition to introduce Korean modern art to the United States. MMCA Asia Project will take place at dOCUMENTA in Kassel from June 18 to September 25, 2022, offering various viewpoints on Asian contemporary art.
In addition to these projects, a number of exhibitions in partnership with other international institutions are planned to be held at museums such as the National Art Museum of China, Germany’s Center for Art and Media(ZKM), and Venice’s Fortuny Museum.
Founded in 1969, the MMCA has become one of the largest art museums in Asia. The MMCA is expected to conduct in-depth research to construct historical narratives and make powerful statements about the oversights of modern and contemporary art history in Korea as well as reflect our current society.