MMCA director Youn Bum-mo speaks at a parliamentary inspection on Wednesday at the National Assembly in Seoul. (Yonhap)
The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea will undergo a special audit this year after the state-run museum was grilled at the parliamentary inspection Wednesday over recent issues surrounding the museum.
The lawmakers questioned the museum’s director Youn Bum-mo Wednesday about the museum's inadequate management of artworks in its collection, employee bullying issues, and its relationship with the current government. Youn was reappointed as the director in February, for a second three-year term.
The museum has been criticized over the management of artwork at the museum. The controversial exhibitions include: “Prayer for Life: Special Exhibition of Korean Polychrome Painting” that ran through Sept. 25 and “MMCA Lee Kun-hee Collection: Lee Jung Seop” that is running until April 23, 2023.
The director was implicated in "gapjil," or abuse of power, of museum employees earlier this year in a survey conducted by the museum's labor union and the matter was reported to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
“It was an oversight on my part. We have resolved the problems and will put more efforts on the issue (to prevent its recurrence),” Youn said.
The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea in Seoul (MMCA)
The museum was heavily criticized by the media when the painting “Father and Two Sons” by Lee Jung-seop was found displayed upside down. The museum claimed there had been controversy over how the painting should be displayed and that it had conducted a thorough discussion before displaying the work.
The painting hung upside down for about a month before it was corrected on Sept. 19.
Ruling People Power Party lawmaker Lee Yong-ho urged the Culture Ministry to conduct a special audit at the inspection and asked for a further report on the museum. A ministry official accepted the request on the spot.
“We have issued a guidebook on preserving artworks in 2018 and revised it in 2021. It is not true that the museum does not have a manual on managing artworks,” an official from the museum said after the inspection. “We will undergo the special audit if we have to, but there is some misunderstanding on the criticisms of the museum.”
Meanwhile, Youn said that the national museum is to open a fifth venue in Daejeon. Construction will start next year with the opening slated for early 2026. The museum currently runs four venues in three regions: Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and North Chungcheong Province.
By Park Yuna (firstname.lastname@example.org)