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The Leeum to reopen in March next year

Posted October. 30, 2020 07:21,   

Updated October. 30, 2020 07:21


The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art is preparing for reopening in March next year. The museum has been practically out of service over the last three years since Hong Ra-hee, the head of the museum, and Hong Ra-young, the general director, stepped down in March 2017. Starting in February this year, the Leeum put a halt on its permanent exhibitions for the spread of COVID-19. Expectations are high as the Leeum, one of the biggest merchants in Korean art market, is coming back to life.

Once the museum opens its door again, Lee Seo-hyun, the chair of the Samsung Welfare Foundation, will likely take the helm of the ship. Lee Seo-hyun, second daughter of the late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee, has led the museum’s consultation and advisory committee since December 2018. Since then, there has been speculation that she will succeed her mother as head of the museum.

Opened in Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu in 2004, the museum was named after a combination of the founder’s surname “Lee” and “um” as in museum. Sitting on the vast premises 7,900m² wide, the place was designed by three world-renowned architects including Mario Botta, Jean Nouvel, and Rem Koolhaas.

The size of collection is extensive, comprising of the antique art pieces from the late founder who enjoyed collecting china, as well as the modern art collection from Hong Ra-hee, Lee’s wife and the former head of the museum. The Leeum also has some 100 national treasures and treasures such as Inwang Jesaekdo (National Treasure No. 216), Geumgang Jeondo (National Treasure No. 217), Gilt-bronze Maitreya (National Treasure No. 118), and gold earrings (Treasure No. 558). The Samsung museum also holds the works of famed local artists such as Cheongjeon Lee Sang-bum, Paik Nam-june, Lee Woo-hwan, Oh Yoon, Lee Bul, as well as major foreign artists including Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Min Kim kimmin@donga.com