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W5.8b earmarked for Lee Kun-hee art collection next year

An installation view of “A Great Cultural Legacy: Masterpieces from the Bequest of the Late Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee” which runs through Sept. 26 at the National Museum of Korea (NMK)
An installation view of “A Great Cultural Legacy: Masterpieces from the Bequest of the Late Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee” which runs through Sept. 26 at the National Museum of Korea (NMK)

The government has earmarked 5.8 billion won ($5 million) in next year’s budget for managing and exhibiting artworks donated by the late Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee.

A total of 3.3 billion won has been allocated toward research personnel, equipment and facilities as well as establishing a database to manage the artworks, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said Tuesday.

Another 2.5 billion won will be used to organize a special exhibition slated to take place at the National Museum of Korea next year to commemorate the first anniversary of the bequest. Some key artworks from Lee’s collection that were donated to public museums around the country will be shown at the national museum at the same time.

“Several exhibitions are in the works to show the collection next year, in addition to the first anniversary exhibition. The donated artworks at NMK and MMCA will tour the country, showing at regional branches of the two state museums,” an official from the Culture Ministry told The Korea Herald.

The budget is part of the government’s record-high 604.4 trillion-won budget for next year. According to the proposed budget, a total of 8.8 trillion won will be spent on culture, sports and tourism sectors, a rise of 3.9 percent on-year.

Earlier this year, Lee’s family donated 23,000 art pieces. The single-largest donation of artworks in Korean art history -- 21,600 antique items and 1,600 modern and contemporary works -- was made to seven public museums and Seoul National University.

All 21,600 antique works, including some 60 state-designated national treasures, went to the National Museum of Korea while the majority of modern and contemporary artworks are kept at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea.

The public regional museums which received a part of the donation include the Daegu Art Museum, Gwangju Museum of Art, Park Soo Keun Museum in Gangwon Province and Lee Jung Seop Art Museum on Jeju island.

The government’s budget for managing and showing Lee’s donations follows the announcement of the establishment of the “Lee Kun-hee Donation Hall” in early July.

The proposed building is expected to be completed by 2028 at a cost of some 100 billion won. Details about the building have been kept under wraps, except for the fact that two sites in Seoul are under consideration for the new complex.

By Park Yuna (yunapark@heraldcorp.com)

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