Back To Top
Life&Style

Leeum Museum of Art suggests redefining who we are

An installation view of the exhibition “Human, 7 Questions,” at Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)
An installation view of the exhibition “Human, 7 Questions,” at Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

Opening its first thematic exhibition in four years, Leeum Museum of Art poses a fundamental question of what it means to be human at a time when fast-developing technology and the pandemic has exposed widening and persistent social inequality around the world.

“We wanted to make the most of our collection for the thematic exhibition and found many of works are related to humans. We found it quite timely to present the exhibition in the pandemic time,” Kwak June-young, a curator at the Leeum Museum of Art, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

“I think we have come to a point to think about human beings in general. We wanted to explore how we are changing as humans and how we can coexist with others, technology and nature by posing seven questions,” she added.

Diversity is central to the exhibition, “Human, 7 Questions,” which features some 50 artists of various ethnicity, gender, race, age and sexual orientation. The seven questions asked at the exhibition are reflection, staging, distortion, fragility, equivalence, avidness and cohabitation. The museum has been preparing for the thematic exhibition since late 2019. 

"Mask II” by Ron Mueck on display at the exhibition “Human, 7 Questions” at Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul. (Leeum Museum of Art)

Walking down to the exhibition hall, visitors will encounter Australian artist Ron Mueck’s work “Mask II,” which is the artist’s best-known work. The hyperrealist installation work is a self-portrait of the artist at sleep created in an unrealistic scale. While it may look as if showing the artist’s most authentic self, taking a step to the side and you will find that the face is hollow at the back.

In a dark room is a media work by Singaporean film director Ho Tzu Nyen, “No Man II.” Visitors are shown images of a variety of beings that include humans, animals, mythical images, anatomical models and cyborgs. The images were created using algorithms from open-source online resources.

The museum has undergone extensive remodeling, including the lobby space, and upgraded digital services such as the media wall and digital guide. The permanent exhibitions of traditional Korean art and contemporary art were reorganized with new collections for the first time in seven years. 

An installation view of the Korean traditional art collection at Leeum Museum of Art (Leeum Museum of Art)
An installation view of the Korean traditional art collection at Leeum Museum of Art (Leeum Museum of Art)

The traditional Korean art exhibition shows a total of 160 works, including state-designated national treasures such as “Gourd-shaped Ewer Decorated with Lotus Petals” and “Daoist Immortals” by the famous Joseon painter Kim Hong-do. The contemporary art section shows 76 works by Korean and international modern and contemporary artists.

“The late chairman (Lee Kun-hee) had a special affection for art and cultural heritage, and the museum’s steering committee chair (Lee Seo-hyun) is determined to carry on his will. More efforts will be made for the Ho-Am Art Museum so that the two museums can grow together,” Kim Sung-won, deputy director of the museum, told The Korea Herald. Lee Seo-hyun is the late chairman’s daughter.

An installation view of the contemporary art collection at Leeum Museum of Art‘s collection (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)
An installation view of the contemporary art collection at Leeum Museum of Art‘s collection (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

The museum remodeling was directed by Jung Ku-ho, the museum‘s creative director. The newly created symbol of the museum was designed by Wolff Olins in UK. 

Online reservation at ticket.leeum.org is required for the exhibitions.

Since Feb. 25, 2020, the museum has only offered a virtual exhibition of its permanent collection on its website and had held off showing thematic exhibitions after Hong Ra-hee, wife of the late Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, stepped down as director in March 2017 after 13 years. 

The museum admission is free of charge, in commemoration of the reopening.


A view of the remodeled lobby at Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul (Leeum Museum of Art)
A view of the remodeled lobby at Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul (Leeum Museum of Art)


By Park Yuna (yunapark@heraldcorp.com)



MOST POPULAR