Seoul National University Museum of Art is a friendly companion of SNU constituents and the general public, working to foster their creativity.
Seoul National University Museum of Art observes in depth and promotes important traces and significant movements in Korean contemporary art.
Seoul National University Museum of Art is an open field of exchange, promoting the values, roles and possibilities of art.
To this end, Seoul National University Museum of Art strives to present new perspectives in novel ways, based on in-depth research on contemporary Korean art. It will always view the era with vigilant, critical eyes. Furthermore, the Museum will constantly reflect upon and question our art. Through the development and implementation of lively, dynamic programs, Seoul National University Museum of Art will continue to influence not only visual art but culture as a whole.
Seoul National University Museum of Art has always made efforts to present new and original art that reflects the times. Opening with the exhibition Invitation to Korean Art in 2006, Seoul National University Museum of Art has provided the public with exhibitions, events and education programs, while responding perceptively to changes of the times, such as trends in contemporary art, social issues and the roles of an art museum.
Seoul National University Museum of Art, which is the first university art museum founded in Korea, was formerly the Contemporary Art Division of the Seoul National University Museum, established in 1946. In 1995, as part of the commemoration project for the 50th anniversary of SNU, the Contemporary Art Division began to prepare for the establishment of the Museum of Art. With Samsung Foundation of Culture’s agreement to sponsor the foundation, and Dutch architect Rem Koolhass’s design, which began in 1996, the Museum of Art was completed in July 2005. The Museum building has a peculiar structure: its steel truss framework, exposed through the U-Glass used as the exterior skin, resembles a gigantic sculpture floating in mid-air, standing as it is on a hill. The Museum of Art, three stories below ground and three stories above, is 4,486 square meters in area and 17.575 meters in height. Its form deviates from conventional exhibition or performance spaces, with its internal spaces all interconnecting organically while maintaining their given specificities. This fluid, challenging space enables the organization of diverse and original programs promoting new attempts by contemporary art.
When it became independent from the University Museum in 2006, a total of 303 art pieces were transferred to Seoul National University Museum of Art. Since then, it has continuously increased its acquisitions, and now has more than 700 artworks in its collection. Though this is not a large collection, it consists of significant works demonstrating the course of Korean modern and contemporary art history, including a large variety of paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, new media works, crafts, photography, calligraphy and design. The Museum is doing its utmost to play its given role, by systematically managing, studying and accumulating its collection. In this context, the Museum searches not only for works with art historical significance, but also for works by young artists who are continuously expanding and developing their horizons based on solid world views, to support them and collect their works.
To overcome the image of an art museum as an exclusive organization, Seoul National University Museum of Art is playing the role of a guide to difficult contemporary art, by holding children’s workshops and lectures on contemporary art and culture for Gwanakgu residents. Moreover, it is carrying out its duty as an open museum for local society and university constituents, in addition to its educational role as an institution affiliated with the university.
Since the inauguration of Lee Jong-sang as the first Director of Seoul National University Museum of Art in 2003, Kim Byoung-jong (2003), Chung Hyoung-min (2006), Kwon Young-geol (2012), Kim Sung-hee (2014), and Chung Young-mok (2016), Yoon Dong-chun (2018) have served as directors. Current Director Sim Sang-yong was inaugurated in February 2020. Seoul National University Museum of Art will continue to respond actively to changing paradigms, providing fresh and diverse cultural programs and advancing toward a space of infinite possibilities.