National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul

The newest of the four national museums of modern and contemporary art, this Seoul location is right beside Gyeongbokgung Palace.


I visited the art museum with a coworker during the Chuseok holidays (Korean Thanksgiving). And at the time, there were a couple of interesting exhibits including an outdoors exhibit that won the design contest. It’s called Shinseon Play (신선놀음). The inspiration behind it is to see above the clouds, which are to remind you of different things – clouds, mushrooms, onions. There is a path that takes you up in the clouds for a different perspective.

Lucky us, the admission was free because of the holidays. Generally though, admission isn’t expensive – 4000 won.

Most parts of the exhibitions do not allow photography but there are these little gems that I took. I loved these cloud paintings that looked so real and surreal all at the same time. These were part of the Korean Beauty: Two Kinds of Nature, Resonance and Harmony.

The life of a bamboo tree is not of being bigger but of being stronger.
(…) A bamboo tree does not record its life of long-suffering.
It leaves no trace. A bamboo tree does not have growth rings.
There is nothing in the place where growth rings are supposed to be.
– Kim Hoon

There was also a House with a House – where the two houses are entirely made out of cloth. The exterior is a western house and the one inside is Korean.

Another exhibit called Matrix: Mathematics _ Heart of Gold and the Abyss. It explores how there is a art perspective to mathematics. Most of the ideas were beyond my comprehension but I loved this little room that showed a mathematian/artist’s room. It reminded me of my own doodles in my math notes back in high school.

There was another exhibit called Super Nature (초자연). It was… not for me. It was a collection of artists exploring paranormal and supernatural phenomenons and creating art. It was freaky and smelly and too strange for me. I was literally running out of there. No joke.

All in all, it’s always an interesting experience to go to the art museum. Especially modern and contemporary art where the meaning is always something different to its different viewers. I still prefer landscape paintings but I like seeing and learning about different art as well.

This museum is definitely worth a visit and it’s a much closer location than the others for those in Seoul. To visit, go to Anguk Station, exit 1 and go straight until you reach the intersection before the palace. Turn right and it will be on your right.


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