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Jan 02 2019

MMCA Opens Fourth Location in Cheongju

by Chloe Chu

MMCA Cheongju was launched on December 27, 2018. Courtesy the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea.

On December 27, 2018, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) in South Korea opened its fourth branch. MMCA Cheongju is located over 100 kilometers south of Seoul in a 20,000-square-meter site that functioned as a tobacco factory from 1946 to 2004. Comprising five stories, the “storage-style” platform operates simultaneously as an exhibition space, conservation laboratory and storage area with the capacity for 11,000 pieces of art. By 2020, just under half of the MMCA’s 8,200 works will be transferred to Cheongju.

On the first level is an open warehouse where a rotating showcase of sculptures and large-scale installations is on view. The second to fourth floors house conservation rooms and storage spaces that visitors are invited to peer into, while the fifth floor is dedicated to exhibitions. The inaugural show, “A Day for Counting Stars: The Story of You and Me,” featured 23 works from the MMCA collection by 15 artists, including Kimsooja, Yeondoo Jung and Im Heung-soon. The Larchiveum—a hybrid library, archive and museum—is scheduled to be revealed in the second half of 2019, on the third floor. MMCA Cheongju will also present education programs and will offer conservation services to other public and private museums.

In addition to Cheongju, MMCA operates locations in Gwacheon, Deoksugung and Seoul. A representative from the museum said about the newest branch: “In time for MMCA’s 50th anniversary in 2019, the opening of the Cheongju location will serve as a milestone of MMCA’s expansion from the capital region to the rest of the country. The newly constructed MMCA Cheongju will communicate with local residents and serve as a central institution dedicated to enriching the culture of Cheongju and the surrounding areas." However, since the departure of former director Bartomeu Marí—the first non-Korean to lead a public cultural institution in South Korea—in December, questions have been raised about the direction of MMCA’s future programming. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, which oversees the MMCA, issued an open call for a new director in October, but Marí’s successor has yet to be named.

Chloe Chu is ArtAsiaPacific’s associate editor.

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