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More fun, visually pleasing exhibitions to come: Kim

Kim Young-na, the newly appointed director-general of the National Museum of Korea, would like to launch exhibitions that are more “fun and visually pleasing.”

“(The) museum is the place where you exhibit the visual image (of the relics and art pieces),” the director told reporters at a press meeting held in Seoul on Monday. “Of course our research (of the exhibiting items) is important. But how we display them is also extremely important.”

“Lighting is also a crucial factor,” Kim continued. “Even the tiniest artifact can stand out with good lighting.”

Kim, who received her master’s and Ph.D. in art history from Ohio State University, taught at Seoul National University’s archaeology and art history program before being appointed as the new director of the national museum last week. 
Kim Young-na, the newly appointed director-general of the National Museum of Korea, speaks at her inaugural ceremony on Feb. 9. (Yonhap News)
Kim Young-na, the newly appointed director-general of the National Museum of Korea, speaks at her inaugural ceremony on Feb. 9. (Yonhap News)

Kim’s concentration of research has been mostly on Western art, while the national museum has been committed to various research activities in the fields of Korean history, archaeology and traditional art.

When questioned about her inadequate experience in traditional Korean art, however, Kim did not lose her confidence.

“The director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York majored in Islamic architecture,” Kim said.

“I don’t think one’s specific concentration of knowledge makes them more qualified for this job. I think what’s more important is the clear vision where this museum should be heading. And I do have that vision.”

Kim hopes to provide a place within the museum where its visitors can leave their belongings ― including their coats and backpacks ― before they enter the exhibition halls. Education programs for children in smaller groups are also on their way.

“I think it’s time to end the programs where hundreds of kids simply come and go,” she said. “I’m thinking of organizing programs where about 20 to 30 children gather together and learn from our professional curators. The educational programs will include both artistic and archaeological materials.”

Kim received much attention as her father, Kim Jae-won (1909-1900), served as the first director of the National Museum which later changed its official name to the National Museum of Korea.

“He was fluent in English, German, and Japanese,” Kim told reporters. “He managed to send the precious artistic and cultural relics down to Busan right before the Korean War, by borrowing an American military train. It wouldn’t have been possible without his linguistic abilities.”

Kim said she knows what is most important. “It’s the exhibitions,” she said. “I hope to provide exhibitions that can stimulate and challenge the visitors’ ways of thinking.”

By Claire Lee (clairelee@heraldcorp.com)
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