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Korean-sponsored MoMA internship trains curators

NEW YORK ― There are many Korean businesses sponsoring artists and musicians as a tool of corporate social responsibility to promote Korean culture.

Hyundai Card’s sponsorship, however, is quite different in terms of duration of the sponsorship and impact on the Korean people’s lifestyle, company officials said.

As part of CSR, the credit card company built a partnership with the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2006 to introduce advanced overseas art trends to the Korean audience, and help expose budding Korean designers and curators to the international art scene. 
Lee Dong-jae (left) and Joo Hye-na, who were MoMA interns from January to April, talk in MoMA’s sculpture garden in New York. (Kim Yoon-mi/The Korea Herald)
Lee Dong-jae (left) and Joo Hye-na, who were MoMA interns from January to April, talk in MoMA’s sculpture garden in New York. (Kim Yoon-mi/The Korea Herald)

“Most of CSR activities related to culture in Korea are one-time events, while our company’s sponsorship for MoMA is a long-term project,” said Eugene Chung, spokesperson for Hyundai Card.

The Korean financial firm sought partnership with the MoMA since November 2006, when the company started running MoMA’s online shop exclusively in Korea at www.momaonlinestore.co.kr.

“Through the MoMA online store, we help introduce the advanced lifestyle from overseas to Koreans,” Chung said.

In August 2010, Hyundai Card announced that it had signed a three-year partnership agreement with the Museum of Modern Art in New York to have up to nine Korean interns recruited at the MoMA each year.

In an interview with The Korea Herald, two of the three interns recruited for the four-month internship that started in January through the Hyundai Card internship program said the jobs at the MoMA were more than satisfying, giving them an opportunity to learn real work.

Lee Dong-jae, 28, came to New York in 1997 and majored in fine arts at Pratt Institute. After working for a while at a contemporary art gallery in Seoul, she went on to study at Harvard University and received a master’s degree in museum studies.

Lee said she learned what her friends who did internships at other institutions could not experience.

“I’ve heard from interns working for other institutions that they don’t give them much attention. But here, they give you real work. For example, they assigned me to do some research and make a chart out of it. Then, my director presented it in a meeting with the management,” Lee said at an office in MoMA.

“What I learned in school was very academic ― theories and philosophies. But through internship activities, I got an idea of what other departments at the MoMA are doing as well. We can ask questions and we get answers,” she said.

The MoMA and Hyundai Card picked the three Korean interns in January after a six-month process of reviewing the 150 applicants.

For the summer internship program, the MoMA recruited a total of 35 interns out of 900 applicants.

The interns are required to work at least two days per week, including Tuesday as the MoMA offers internship activities from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Although two days are the minimum, interns usually work most of the weekdays because the more they work, the more they learn, said Joo Hye-na, 26.

Joo’s work at the MoMA was to provide retail creative services such as doing a sketch design for a signage of In-Store at the MoMA.

“There will be no other place to have the priceless experience we had here,” she said.

Besides the internship program, Hyundai Card has supported various cultural activities related to Korean culture or MoMA exhibitions.

One of them was the company’s support for the museum’s film exhibition, “Yeonghwa: Korean Film Today,” in September 2010.

From October to April 25 the company also sponsored “Abstract Expressionist New York.”

In October in Seoul, Hyundai Card held a “Super Talk” on “Innovation in Art,” inviting MoMA director Glenn Lowry and chief curator of architecture and design Barry Bergdoll to give lectures.

This summer, Hyundai Card plans to support the exhibition “Talk to Me,” which will be held from July 24 to Nov. 7, at the MoMA’s special exhibitions gallery.

The exhibition will investigate the communication between people and things and focus on “objects that involve a direct interaction, such as interfaces, information systems, visualization designs, and communication devices, and on projects that establish an emotional, sensual, or intellectual connection with their users,” the museum’s website said.

By Kim Yoon-mi, Korea Herald correspondent 
(yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)
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