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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Inside Deoksugung, Part II: Podeongmun Gate and Seokjojeon Hall (Deoksugung Museum of Contemporary Art)

Deoksugung Museum of Contemporary Art (Hanja: 德壽宮美術館) is a branch of the National Museum of Contemporary Art which is headquartered at Makgye-dong, Gwacheon City, Gyeonggi Province. It was used to be the Contemporary Arts Museum after relocation from Gyeongbokgung in 1973. In 1986, this museum was moved to the present location at Gwacheon City and the old site at Deoksugung reopened as the National Museum of Contemporary Art Deoksugung Annex in 1998. Most of this museum complex is located at Seokjojeon Hall

Before we enter the Deoksugung Museum of Contemporary Art, you must reach to Podeongmun Gate (Hanja: 布德門). It is also known as Pyeongseongmun Gate (평성문/平成門). This gate is located at the west of Deoksugung, opposite to the old American Embassy in Jeongdong, Seoul Jung-gu. Err... are we using Deoksugung's back door just now? The answer is YES. This is because the gate is located near to the Museum (Seokjojeon).

This edifice showing the influence of the Colonial style of the early 19th century America is three storied and has a floor space op 4,045 square meters. The building work was supervised at its early stage by Shim Ui-seok, a Korean, Afanasy Ivanovich Seredin-Sabatin, a Russian, and Ogawa, a Japanese, and later by M. H. Davidson, an Englishman. The first floor was for the attendants and valets, the second floor consisted of audience rooms and halls, and on the third floor were the bed rooms, living rooms and drawing rooms for the use of king and queen-consort.

At one time, the Seokjojeon Hall (Hanja: 石造殿) housed the National Museum of Korea. At present it is used as a part of the Royal Museum. The Royal Museum with 11 exhibition halls show artefacts of the royal Yi household including the clothes and personal ornaments of Crown Prince Uimin and his consort, Princess Bangja a.k.a Masako Nashimoto, and relics related to Princess Yuhwa. The Construction of the West Wing was begun in 1936 and was completed in 1938. It is now used as a part of the Royal Museum.

Deoksugung Museum of Contemporary Art specializes in modern art and is engaged in various activities: academic studies, collection and preservation of works of art, the staging of temporary and permanent exhibitions, the development and execution of educational programs, the publication and international dissemination of information and finally, the international exchange of modern works of art. Because many citizens find it difficult to get to Gwacheon from Seoul, one of the Museums chief goals is to serve as a cultural center for the residents of northern Seoul.

Deoksugung Museum of Contemporary Art was originally built as an annex to the National Museum of Contemporary Art. It specializes in seeking out and researching modern art, and also in exhibiting and preserving it. You can see classical works of modern art when you visit this museum.

Because it uses the Seokjojeon annex inside the Deoksugung Palace as its exhibition space, the center maintains a unique traditional atmosphere. On the first floor are the administrative office and the audiovisual room, and the second floor has planned exhibitions of modern art in exhibition rooms one and two. The third floor has exhibitions three and four, where works selected as best modern art by the National Museum of Contemporary Art are displayed all year around. You can see modern works such as paintings in Indian ink, colorings, oil paintings, and sculptures.

Deoksugung Museum of Contemporary Art has "Art Center With the Citizens" as its motto. Besides the exhibitions, the center has various performances such as music and mime. Lectures or seminars on artists' works are also held often and are popular with tourists. The "Citizen's Park" outside the museum is frequented by many people who go there to relax. Tourists can take a breather here as well, so be sure to make use of it.