The Korea Herald


Seoul Museum of Art experiments with ways to examine collection

By Park Yuna

Published : Jan. 26, 2021 - 16:46

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"Ink Drop” by Chung So-young (SeMA)

Seoul Museum of Art’s first exhibition of the year is an attempt to redefine the museum’s collection with an experimental approach -- interaction between citizens and experts.

Scattered at three locations throughout Seoul, the Seoul City-run SeMA is located at Seoul Museum of Art (Seosomun-dong), Buk-Seoul Museum of Art in Nowon-gu and Nam-Seoul Museum of Art in Gwanak-gu. Established in 1988, SeMA holds more than 5,000 works in its collection.

“Collection_Opening Hacking Mining” -- which opened Tuesday and runs through April 11 -- has more than 100 works by 72 artists on display, which will be shown at the museum as well as on its online platform.

The exhibition consists of three different concepts -- opening, hacking and mining the collections.

The museum will partially “open” the contents of the museum’s collection management system, which are normally off limits to the public. The exhibition will show the most expensive artwork, the largest artwork and the video artwork with the longest-running time among its collections.

The exhibition involves the concept of “hacking” the collection by artists and citizens. The four online workshops hosted by artist Oh Jae-woo are among the “hacking” projects, which invite citizens’ ideas about what should be on display at the museum. 

"Work" by Yoo Young-kuk (SeMA)

The artworks selected by citizens will be exhibited on the second floor of the museum, and the installation process will be livestreamed. The process aims to question the conventional system of managing artworks, according to the museum.

“We organized the exhibition to reexamine the value of our collection through interactions with citizens, external experts and curators when the pandemic broke many barriers in the museum system. Usually a museum’s collection exhibition is held with a certain theme, but we wanted to do this in an experimental way,” said curator Kwon Hye-in. “Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) will expand in a couple of years and we wanted to reexamine our collection to reestablish the identity of our collection.”

The fourth SeMA, located in southern Seoul, will open in five years, according to the museum.

The current exhibition includes the Mining-Research and Criticism Project, which attempts to “mine” the identity of the collection. Research by nine experts, critics and curators on the museum’s collection will be uploaded on the museum’s website and displayed at the museum, introducing a variety of works that have been held in storage without having had a chance to be exhibited.

The museum currently operates on a reservation system. Reservations can be made at Docent programs in English and Korean are available and can be downloaded on Google Play or Apple Store. The museum is closed Mondays.

By Park Yuna (