Kansong Art Museum reopens after seven years and pledges not to auction its collection

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A visitor admires the exhibition at the Kansong Art Museum (Yonhap)

The Kansong Art Museum, South Korea’s oldest private museum, opened on Saturday for the first time since 2014.

The current show is the last chance to see an exhibit in the historic venue before restoration of the 85-year-old main building begins.

The museum had remained closed since fall 2014 as it became difficult to accommodate visitors to the aging facility. From 1972 to 2014, the museum held exhibitions twice a year, with each highly anticipated exhibition drawing large crowds. From 2014 to 2019, the museum temporarily used Dongdaemun Design Plaza for exhibitions.

The separate storage facility in front of Bohwagak, the main building, was unveiled to the media on Saturday. Completed in March, it was built with funding of 4.4 billion won ($3.6 million) from the central government and the Seoul Metropolitan Government in recognition of the museum’s contribution to Korean cultural heritage. The 982 square meter storage building includes a conservation laboratory where the museum will work with outside experts to restore damaged artifacts from the museum’s collection. The museum has some 16,000 objects in its collection.

The second floor of Bohwagak, the main building of the Kansong <a class=Art Museum (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)” categoryid=”9900000000000000″ src=”http://res.heraldm.com/content/image/2022/04/17/20220417000050_0.jpg”/>

The second floor of Bohwagak, the main building of the Kansong Art Museum (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

Speaking at a press conference held Friday at the Seongbuk-gu museum in Seoul, Jeon In-geon, director of the museum and grandson of museum founder Jeon Hyung-pil, pledged that the struggling museum financial would not put its cultural artifacts up for auction again.

In May 2020, two Buddhist artifacts, both state-designated treasures, were put on the block. When they failed to find bidders, the National Museum of Korea acquired the objects. In January, the museum again auctioned two Buddhist relics, both designated national treasures by the state.

When they found no bidders, Heritage DAO purchased National Treasure No. 73, the Portable Gilt Bronze Buddha Triad Shrine, and donated 51% of the property to the museum. He also permanently entrusted the Buddhist relic to the museum for physical exhibits.

“It was like cutting off my arm when I had to auction them off to eliminate liabilities,” Jeon said. “We thought we needed a ‘selection and concentration strategy’, focusing on calligraphy works and porcelains. Fortunately, we are becoming stable. We will never sell our collection at auction again.

Founded in 1938 by Jeon Hyung-pil – a wealthy merchant who collected Korean cultural artifacts during Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945 – the museum was a stronghold that helped protect Korean heritage from being expelled from the country by colonialists Japanese.

The name of the museum, Bohwagak, was changed to Kansong Museum of Art, adopting the pseudonym of the founder, after his death in 1962. Bohwagak, designed by Korean architect Park GIl-ryong, literally means “a house that holds a sparkling treasure”.

“Reading a Book Under a Pine”, a light-colored painting by Yi In-sang (1710-1760) (Kansong Art Museum)

The exhibition “The Restoration and Conservation of the Kansong Collection” features 32 of the museum’s 150 artifacts that have been restored since 2020 with funding from the Cultural Heritage Administration. Among the restored works are “Grapes”, an ink and wash painting by Shin Saimdang (1504-1551), “Reading a Book Under a Pine”, a light-colored painting by Yi In-sang (1710-1760 ) and “Questioning the Moon”, a light-colored painting by Yi Jeong (1554-1626).

An online reservation on the museum’s website is required to visit the exhibition, which will run until June 5. Guided tours led by a docent are offered at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily. Guided tours are only available in Korean.

Bohwagak, which served as both an exhibition hall and a storage facility, was listed as a cultural heritage site in 2019. Most of the artifacts will be moved to the new storage facility and the historic building will be used as an exhibition hall. exhibition after restoration.

Renovation will begin in June after the exhibit and is expected to take about three years, according to the museum.

By Park Yuna ([email protected])

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