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The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea in Seoul (MMCA).
The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea in Seoul (MMCA).

MMCA to Open Fifth Outpost in Daejeon

South Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) will open a branch in Daejeon, the country’s fifth-largest city, situated in the central lowlands. The outpost is expected to be inaugurated in the first half of 2026 and will be the museum’s southernmost and also its fifth, following two in Seoul and one each in Gwacheon and Cheongju.

The news was revealed by MMCA director Youn Bum-mo, who was named to the post in 2019 and was reappointed in February by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Youn noted that the project is in the planning stage, with construction slated to start in 2023. The new branch, is to occupy the 1932 modernist structure that formerly served as main building of the Chungcheongnam-do Provincial Government.

Youn said that the Daejeon outpost will be used for storage, as the Cheongju branch is, and that it will function as a kind of “art hospital” as the institution continues researching ways to preserve works through the use of big data and artificial intelligence. 

The construction of the museum comprises the second three-year plan set forth by Youn since assuming the MMCA directorship. The first plan centered around the restoration of the colossal video tower The More, the Better by Nam June Paik, situated at MMCA Gwacheon. Youn told the Korea Herald that the Paik project was nearing completion. “In terms of Nam June Paik’s work, we will finish the test run in a few months and will have a lighting ceremony in September,” he said. “The video tower will operate at designated time slots afterward.”

According to Youn, the Daejon outpost will not be MMCA’s last. “We will continue to expand our venues across the country after Daejeon,” he asserted. Youn additionally promised collaborations with international museums aimed at elevating the profile of Korean art globally. Among those forthcoming are “MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2021” by the artist duo Moon Kyung-won and Jeon Joon-ho, which will travel to Japan’s 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, in May; “2022 MMCA Asia Project in Documenta Kassel 15,” to be held at Documenta 15 in Kassel in July; and “The Space Between: The Modern in Korean Art,” a joint show between MMCA and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art opening at the latter in September. An exhibition of the work of Korean contemporary ink-and-wash painter Park Dae-sung is to be staged at Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum of Art in Hanover, New Hampshire, in autumn 2023, and an exhibition highlighting South Korea’s experimental art of the 1960s and ’70s will launch at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum that same year.

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