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 May 7, 2021. (Yonhap)
The government plans to make a decision by next month on the construction of a new museum to house donations from the late Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee's vast art collection, officials at the culture ministry said Monday.
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hwang Hee plans to announce details of a new art museum for around 23,000 artworks and artifacts donated by Lee's family, in June, the officials said.
The planned announcement will come as at least a dozen cities around the country have been competing fiercely to host the so-called Lee Kun-hee art museum.
Lee died last October, and Samsung heirs on April 28 announced plans to donate highly valuable modern and contemporary artworks and artifacts from his personal collection to public museums nationwide.
The possibility of a new museum gained traction after President Moon Jae-in instructed his administration on April 28 to look into installing a separate exhibition hall inside existing museums or building a special hall to exhibit the donated works to the public.
The culture ministry has since formed a task force on the establishment of a new art gallery to collect opinions from various fields, including the art world.
There is speculation that the greater Seoul area may be picked as the venue of the new art museum, considering accessibility and the wishes of the donors who want the rare artworks to be viewed by as many people as possible.
Minister Hwang also said earlier that the role of the government is to enable the will of the late chairman to be shared and enjoyed by many people and tourists visiting South Korea.
Still, it is not clear whether the government will push to build a national museum of modern art with the Lee family's donations, as requested by the local art world, or create an art museum solely dedicated to the 23,000-odd donated works.
A group of figures in the local art world has proposed constructing a national museum of modern art with the donated artworks in central Seoul, saying the nation has a national museum of contemporary art but is lacking a national museum of modern art.
The group calls for combining about 2,000 modern artworks from the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and about 1,000 modern artworks from Lee's donations to build an independent national museum of modern art. (Yonhap)