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MMCA excited by donations from Lee Kun-hee collection

Youn Bum-mo, the director of the MMCA speaks at a press event held at the Seoul branch of the museum in Samcheong-dong, central Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)
Youn Bum-mo, the director of the MMCA speaks at a press event held at the Seoul branch of the museum in Samcheong-dong, central Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)

While the late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s art collection has been creating a buzz across the art scene and more, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is looking to make the most of the donation.

“This is a record-breaking donation, unlikely to happen twice in my lifetime,” Youn Bum-mo, the director of the MMCA, said at a press event held at the museum’s Seoul branch in Samcheong-dong, central Seoul, Friday.

“The collection is very broad, from antique Korean art to contemporary Western art. It is very diverse,” he said. “It is a collection shaped with passion and specialty over a long time.”

According to Youn, the MMCA’s modern art collection will take a huge leap with the donated collection of 1,488 artworks.

“The surviving family did not put any conditions on the donation, which is very rare. It is very unusual for a donor to not attach any conditions to such a large donation,” Youn said.

While President Moon Jae-in ordered a review of an exhibition hall dedicated to the collection in late April, the authorities are currently looking into establishing a separate hall.

The pieces from the Lee Kun-hee collection received by MMCA include 1,369 works by 238 Korean modern and contemporary artists, and 119 works by eight foreign modern artists. The collection consists of 412 paintings, 371 prints, 296 Korean paintings, 161 drawings, 136 craft works and 194 sculptures.

Some of the highlights of the collection are Lee Jung-seop’s “Bull” and “White Ox.”

All the donated works will be stored at the MMCA Gwacheon branch. As the storage at the Gwacheon branch is 95 percent full, the authorities are currently looking into securing more space. The storage for three MMCA branches -- Seoul, Cheongju and Gwacheon -- is at 93 percent capacity.

The museum will hold three exhibitions dedicated to the latest acquisitions: “Lee Kun-hee Collection: Modern Masterpieces” (tentative title) in August, followed by “Lee Kun-hee Collection: Foreign Masters” in December and “Lee Kun-hee Collection: Lee Jung-seop Special Exhibition” in March 2022.

Some of the works will be shown at exhibitions at the Deoksugung branch in July and November and at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in November, at the MMCA’s Gwacheon branch in April and September 2022.
By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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