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Tower 63 in Seoul. Photo: Jirka Matousek/Flickr.
Tower 63 in Seoul. Photo: Jirka Matousek/Flickr.

Centre Pompidou Expands into Seoul

The Centre Pompidou, Paris, announced today that it is opening a branch in Seoul. The French contemporary art institution will partner with South Korean finance and retail conglomerate Hanwha on the museum, which will occupy Tower 63, the reflective glass skyscraper housing Hanwha’s headquarters. Pompidou Center Hanwha Seoul, as the institution is tentatively named, will be designed by French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte and is scheduled to open in early 2025. According to an agreement signed March 19 by Pompidou president Laurent Le Bon and Hanwha Culture Foundation chair Shin Hyunwoo, the collaboration between the two entities will run for four years, during which time the Seoul outpost will stage a total of eight monographic exhibitions, two per year, featuring works from the collection of the Centre Pompidou. The Korea Times reports that Hanwha is paying $21 million for the right to use the Pompidou trademark. The French museum had earlier considered Busan and Incheon as possible satellite locations.

The news comes just days after the Pompidou revealed plans for an outpost in Saudi Arabi’s burgeoning AlUla region. The French museum is partnering with the Royal Commission for AlUla on that endeavor, which will yield a large-scale museum centering art from Southwest Asia, North Africa, and South Asia, with a focus on Land art and digital art of this century. The Saudi outpost is slated for completion in 2028–29 and is part of the Vision 2030 initiative launched by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in an attempt to establish a more progressive cultural profile for the country and move its economy away from a reliance on oil.

With the Seoul and AlUla branches in the works, Pompidou—which has outposts in Metz, France; Malaga, Spain; and Shanghai—will encompass a half dozen museums, including its flagship Paris institution.