Special exhibits to inaugurate nat'l modern art museum's Seoul Gallery

By Shim Sun-ah

SEOUL, Nov. 11 (Yonhap) -- The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art will host five special exhibitions this week to celebrate the long-awaited opening of its new gallery in Seoul and the museum's expanded role as a hub for the arts in the country, the museum said Monday.

Built into a three-story building on about 30,000 square meters of land near the Gwanghwamun area in downtown Seoul, the Seoul Gallery is an addition to the museum's two galleries -- in Gwacheon, just south of Seoul, and Deoksu Palace in downtown Seoul. But it boasts far better accessibility for Seoul citizens than the main branch in Gwacheon and is far bigger than the Deoksu gallery.

Timed with the new gallery opening on Wednesday, five special exhibitions featuring works by a total of 70 contemporary artists at home and abroad will open to the public, the museum said.

The main exhibit is "Connecting-Unfolding," which introduces works by select artists from six different countries such as Britain, the United States, India, Japan and South Korea.

Others include "The Aleph Project," an experimental art exhibit that covers a wide range of areas through collaboration of theorists, curators, architects, designers and astronomers, as well as "Zeitgeist Korea," an exhibit displaying the trend of South Korea's modern and contemporary art through works by 39 leading artists in the museum's collection.

There also will be an exhibition of two large-scale installation art and a show of photos and videos documenting the construction process of the new gallery, according to the museum.

It took four years to build the museum since former President Lee Myung-bak unveiled a plan to build the new branch of the national modern art museum on the site where the Defense Security Command and a military hospital were located in early 2009.

The Seoul Gallery has eight exhibition rooms, a movie theater, a seminar room, a digital library, a cafeteria, a food court and a digital book cafe. The museum is also equipped with six open spaces between several buildings, which will be used for resting and outdoor exhibitions.

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