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  • Feb 12, 2019

Youn Bummo Named Director of MMCA

YOUN BUMMO took up his role as the director of South Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art on February 1. Courtesy the

On January 31, South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced the appointment of art critic and scholar Youn Bummo as director of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA). Youn began his three-year term on February 1, and will oversee the museum’s exhibitions, public programs and collections until 2021. The shortlist of candidates also included the former president of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, Lee Yongwoo, and Kim Hong-hee, previously the director of the Seoul Museum of Art.

Prior to his appointment, Youn served as the professor of art history at his alma mater, Dongguk University, in Seoul. He has published extensively, especially on the topic of Minjung art (“people’s art”), and in the 1980s, co-founded the Reality and Utterance movement which advocated for a stronger link between art and politics. He began his career in the late 1970s as a journalist reporting for Quarterly Art, a journal launched by the Korea Daily, as well as the short-lived yet trailblazing monthly art magazine Art and Life. He joined the Samsung Foundation of Culture’s Ho Am Art Museum as a curator in 1985, and was the artistic director of the 2018 Changwon Sculpture Biennale. In 2014, he took on the role of chief curator for the Gwangju Biennale’s special exhibition, but resigned in protest after the censorship of a satirical painting that criticized former president Park Geun-hye. 

Youn expressed his hopes of creating a more open and exciting museum that offers a view of the breadth of MMCA’s 50-year history and collection: “The MMCA will serve as a discursive platform for art historians and professionals, and will bring exhibitions and public programs that are built upon art history—a museum that is accommodating, friendly and accessible to everyone,” he told Sbiztoday.

Youn succeeds Bartomeu Marí, who announced in September he would step down from his position after the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism decided to issue an open call for his replacement. Marí finished his term in December.

Julee WJ Chung is the assistant editor of ArtAsiaPacific.

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