(ATTN: UPDATES with press tour quotes at paragraphs 7, 11, minor changes to 6th paragraph)
SEOUL, April 27 (Yonhap) — Two national museums will open a joint exhibition of artworks donated by the late Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee on Thursday to commemorate the first anniversary of the donation.
Co-hosted by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Korea (MMCA), the exhibition, titled “A Collector’s Invitation”, will run until August 28 at the Special Gallery of the National Museum of Korea (NMK) , the mentioned museum.
A year ago, Lee’s family donated around 23,000 works of art, including masterpieces by Korean and Western artists, such as Kim Whan-ki, Claude Monet and Salvador Dali, at NMK, MMCA and five public galleries across the country. Lee passed away in October 2020.
The artworks had been collected by the late entrepreneur who said he considered the collection and preservation of cultural heritage a duty of the times in his speech at the opening ceremony of the Leeum Museum of Art, one of the best private museums in South Korea, in 2004.
The two national museums, which hold most of the items in the Lee collection, opened exhibitions in July to showcase the cream of the collection, at MMCA’s Seoul Gallery and NMK in Yongsan, central Seoul. The MMCA exhibition is still ongoing as the institution has extended the popular event, which is believed to have attracted around 100,000 visitors, twice until June 6.
Unlike special exhibitions held last year, however, the upcoming exhibition at NMK will allow people to easily enjoy the essence of Lee’s extensive art collection in just one visit.
“Tomorrow is the first anniversary of Lee’s huge art collection being donated to the state,” Hwang Hee, minister of culture, sports and tourism, said during a press tour of the government. exhibition on Wednesday. “This exhibit was designed to highlight the late President’s extraordinary worldview, who loved culture and art, and to commemorate the noble intention behind his gift.”
On display will be 355 objects in metal, clay, wooden furniture, sculptures, calligraphy and oil paintings from prehistory to the 21st century, a number well above the 135 presented during the two previous exhibitions.
They include Korean and Western masterpieces, such as “Inwangjesaekdo (Clearing after Rain on Mount Inwang)”, an iconic landscape painting of the Joseon era by Jeong Seon (1676-1759), “Water Lily Pond” by Claude Monet (1840-1926), “Work” by Korean abstract master Kim Whan-ki (1913-1974) and “A Woman in Yellow” by Korean painter Lee In-sung (1912-1950).
Among the 355 objects are also 13 national treasures, including Jeong Seon’s “Inwangjesaekdo” and “Ilgwangsamjonsang,” a gilt-bronze standing Buddha triad believed to be from the 6th century during the Three Kingdoms period.
Some of the major paintings will only be exhibited for one or two months lest they be damaged by long exposure to lighting.
For example, visitors can view “Inwangjesaekdo” from April 28 to May 31 and “Chuseongbudo (Autumn Sound)” by famous Joseon era painter Kim Hong-do (1745-1806) from June 1 to May 30. June.
“We thought a lot about how to help visitors easily understand Lee Kun-hee’s collection,” said Lee Ae-ryung, head of NMK’s fine arts department, at the press conference. “Since most of the artworks in the exhibition have been presented to the public, we have tried to effectively show the varied and vast collection.”
Tickets can be reserved on the Interpark e-commerce site and purchased on site. Reservations started a month ago, and all tickets for this month and next month have sold out. Tickets for June can be reserved from 2 p.m. on Monday.