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Late Samsung chairman’s artworks to be donated

Posted April. 29, 2021 07:29,   

Updated April. 29, 2021 07:29


The late Samsung Chairman Lee Gun-hee’s private art collection will be donated and contribute to high-quality collections at the National Museum of Korea and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Thanks to the donation, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) will be able to expand its collection of Korean modern art, which are rare and difficult to find. The new collections are expected to contribute greatly to the museum’s exhibition and research on modern art. The National Museum of Korea will also see a stronger collection of drawings, crafts and other art collections to balance out its collection of excavated collections. Images of the donations will be digitized and displayed on websites.  

The bereaved family has agreed to donate collections that amount to some 23,000 items, as the late Chairman Lee left in his will, and discussed the matter with both museums which are governed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Lee Seo-hyun, head of the board at the Samsung Welfare Foundation, also joined the sponsors association for MMCA.  

Chairman Lee had previously donated stereobates of a private study room of a crown prince of the Joseon Dynasty, found in the backyard of the Okra Hotel in Japan, to the Korean government. Experts say that it was likely that the late Chairman had built up the collection with donation in mind. In his essay published in 1997, he wrote, “there are still many Korean cultural artifacts scattered across the world and the country. I believe our efforts to collect these and enhance the museum’s profile is lacking,” after touring the National Museum of Korea.  

The late Chairman Lee is known to have had great interest in art collections, just as his father, the late Lee Byung-chull, founder of Samsung. “Chairman Lee had always pursued works of ultimate quality for Korean artwork, always selecting items based on universal views,” wrote Lee Ufan, a leading artist of modern Korean art, in his obituary for Lee.

Hyo-Lim Son aryssong@donga.com · Hyoun-Soo Kim kimhs@donga.com