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[Herald interview] 10-year-old Jeju Museum of Art prepares for next decade under new director

With the Jeju Museum of Art celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Director Choi Jeong-ju, who was appointed in October, is looking to ensure transparency in the museum’s management and to offer quality programs.

“The Jeju Museum of Art, which took off as a cultural platform for local artists and citizens, has taken firm roots here over the last 10 years. I think now is the time to prepare for the next 10 years,” Choi said in an email interview with The Korea Herald. 

Choi Jeong-ju, the director of the Jeju Museum of Art (Jeju Museum of Art)
Choi Jeong-ju, the director of the Jeju Museum of Art (Jeju Museum of Art)

Foremost among the issues she intends to address is the Jeju Biennale. The biennale, inaugurated in 2017, was criticized for haphazard management and issues concerning budget spending.

The former director of the museum was charged with breach of trust and abuse of authority.

“I was told that the previous biennale lacked preparation and failed to follow proper administrative processes,” Choi said.

The Jeju Biennale will not take place this year, as the museum is focusing on creating guidelines that will prevent it from repeating its mistakes.

“We will make sure the new guidelines separate the role of the museum director from that of the biennale’s artistic director,” Choi said.

The museum is currently mulling candidates for the artistic director who will curate the second Jeju Biennale, to be held in 2020.

Apart from the biennale, Choi said she would focus on building platforms that benefit the local community.

“The museum will continue to support artists and research dedicated to highlighting the history and arts of Jeju. It will also function as a platform where local artists can showcase their creative endeavors,” Choi said.

Choi will also make sure the museum organizes quality exhibitions that can satisfy both local residents as well as tourists visiting the resort island.

“Jeju Museum of Art, as a public museum that represent Korea’s tourist hub, is responsible for offering quality entertainment to the visitors. To satisfy the demand, the museum will continue to introduce exhibitions that feature the island and local arts,” Choi said.

On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, the Jeju Museum of Art is holding its third exhibition this year, titled “99+1.”

The exhibition, dedicated to showing the development of Jeju’s modern and contemporary art scene, features a wide range of artists, from those who led Jeju’s art scene in the 1950s to more recent artists who have ties to the island.

The museum will also hold exhibitions that feature foreign artists, to add variety to its program, Choi said.

After “99+1,” the museum will hold an exhibition featuring Brooklyn Museum’s collection of modern masters, such as Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Francois-Auguste-Rene Rodin.

Choi previously worked at the National Museum of Korea, Seoul Museum of Art and the Asia Culture Center.

By Shim Woo-hyun (