Seoul’s New MMCA
It’s not as easy to say as MOMA and sounds more like you’re thinking and then making a sudden burst of sound, but it’s here: The Seoul Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, or MMCA (국립현대미술관 서울관)!
The building, or buildings that make up the complex, sits on the eastern side of Gyeongbukgung Palace and the entrance looks more like an old school with brick walls and old windows with iron separating the panes of glass. If you try to enter into any of the many other doors of the complex, you’ll be ushered away by a man in a suit and a walkie talkie until you find the correct door to enter through. It’s sort of a puzzle to find the right door, if you come from any other direction other than the entrance directly to the east of the palace, because you can end up in a central courtyard and still not be able to get into the building, which maybe suits the museum of modern art. The art is puzzling and so are the buildings and entrances, or are they exits? That seems to be the question, or so it was ours.
According to an interview with the architect, Mihn Hyun-jun, before the museum even began there were “four years of navigating zoning laws, historical preservation societies, and residential regulations that required walking paths throughout the museum grounds to be integrated into the design,” which led to our issues with finding the correct entrance. It would seem that at some point all of the doors are supposed to be open as the article also explains that the “design intends for passerby to be naturally, magnetically pulled toward MMCA Seoul, regardless of originating direction.” Once inside the museum, there aren’t arrows directing paths as the galleries were meant to be flexible allowing people to walk through one way or the other, forward or backward. There are numerous windows that allow visitors to always be aware of where they are within the museum, unlike many museums that make the visitor feel cut off from the outside world. The museum complex includes two historical buildings in its layout, the Jonchinbu, or the Royal Office of Genealogy, a Joseon Kingdon era structure and the old Defense Security Command building that was built by the Japanese during the colonial era to be a hospital. These buildings along with the others make the museum itself a piece of art for the viewer to enjoy.
One of the popular current exhibitions is Do Ho Suh’s Home Within Home Within Home Within Home: a traditional Korean house within a western style house within the Seoul Box within the Seoul branch within Seoul.
Another interesting exhibition is The Aleph Project that uses Complex Network Theory to cover a wide range of collaborations and allows visitors to have active participation in the work.
Another site-specific installation is U-Ram Choe’s Opertus Lunula Umbra, a slow moving mechanical creature that hangs from a ceiling on the basement level. The museum, outside and inside, are definitely worth a visit for people young and old, families and couples. There are a wide range of exhibitions to see and all of them interesting and while there be sure to grab a calendar of events as a goal of the museum is to get people involved with the art on a consistent basis, so there are numerous lectures, activities and more for visitors to partake in.
서울특별시 종로구 소격동 165
165 Sogyeok-dong Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
Anguk Station, exit 1 OR Gwanghwamun Station, exit 2 OR Gyeongbukgung Station, exit 6.
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Sunday: 10:00 – 18:00
Wednesday & Saturday: 10:00 – 21:00
Admission: Exhibitions have different fees and the site-specific exhibitions are free. All exhibitions are free on the last Wednesday of the month.