On July 7, South Korea’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Hwang Hee announced the establishment of a new museum to house the art collection of former Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun- hee. Lee’s heirs donated the multibillion-dollar collection – which includes 23,181 works of art and cultural objects by artists such as Picasso, Monet and Giacometti, as well as at least twenty antiques officially designated as national treasures – to several public institutions in April in order to compensate for a substantial legacy. tax.
The collection is expected to remain in Seoul, with two central locations currently considered construction sites. The first of these is the Songhyeon-dong area near the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Korea (MMCA); the second is the National Museum of Korea Park in Yongsan-gu. Both museums are in possession of a significant portion of Lee’s collection, the first having received 1,488 pieces and the second 21,693.
The announcement of a new institution unifying the collection under one roof contradicted earlier claims by the businessman’s heirs that the collection would be scattered across multiple museums. “It is necessary to build a new art room to better manage the donated art collection and study [it]”Hwang said at a press conference earlier today, as reported in the Herald of Korea. “The objective is to share the donor’s collection and its philosophy of collecting works of art with the general public.
A National Donation Committee for the Lee Kun-hee Collection has been established to facilitate the selection process. Hwang also lifted the veil on plans for a traveling exhibition of works from Lee’s collection, to be held in venues across South Korea from the second half of 2022. The exhibition will travel to the international, with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is reportedly in talks to host the exhibition. In addition, a database of donated works should be completed by 2023.
The collection and its future have been subjects of great interest to the South Korean public. MMCA Seoul opened an exhibition of around 70 works from the collection on July 21, after moving the date to August to meet demand. A simultaneous exhibition of donated works is scheduled to open on the same day at the National Museum of Korea. Smaller exhibitions featuring works from Lee’s collection have already opened at the Gwangju Museum of Art and the Daegu Art Museum, with the Herald of Korea noting that tickets for the latter, where the museum admits 15,000 visitors per day, sold out on the first day of the exhibition.