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MMCA Seoul opens first-ever permanent exhibition with collection pieces

Installation view of “MMCA Collection Highlights 2020 Plus” at MMCA Seoul (MMCA)
Installation view of “MMCA Collection Highlights 2020 Plus” at MMCA Seoul (MMCA)

The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, opened its first-ever permanent exhibition Thursday.

“MMCA Collection Highlights 2020 Plus” showcases 54 of the gallery’s collection pieces -- paintings, video installations and other works that represent Korea’s modern and contemporary eras.

Park Mi-hwa, senior curator at the MMCA, walks viewers through the exhibition on the museum’s YouTube channel. English subtitles are in the works and will be added within May, according to the MMCA.

Members of the public who would like to visit the exhibition and appreciate the masterpieces in person can make reservations through the MMCA website until May 17 for free. All visitors are required to wear face masks and undergo temperature checks before entering the museum.

“MMCA Collection Highlights 2020 Plus” consists of four sections: “From the Opening of Ports to Liberation” has works from the Japanese colonial period, and “Toward International Art” focuses on the Korean War. “Searching for Identity” deals with the 1950s after the Korean War, and “Diversity and Globalism” showcases later works.

“I highly recommend the exhibition to those who are not yet familiar with Korea’s modern and contemporary art. The exhibition will mark a good beginning,” Park said in her role as virtual tour guide on YouTube.

The masterpieces from the early and mid-1900s include “Self-Portrait” (1915) by Ko Hui-dong, “Sunny Place” (1939) by Oh Ji-ho and “Rando” (1938) by Kim Whan-ki. “Many paintings in this period encompass both the Korean traditional style and the Western style, which came from Japan,” Park said.

The English version of “MMCA Collection 300,” a book that introduces the museum’s collection of 300 modern and contemporary Korean masterpieces, published in Korean in December, is scheduled to be published before the end of this year.

By Park Yuna (