The Making of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), South Korea, 1969-2016
thesisposted on 21.02.2018, 12:57 by Yon Jai Kim
This thesis investigates the dynamics, debates, and contexts of the making of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in South Korea (MMCA). An interdisciplinary history, it examines and deconstructs particular episodes, events, and relationships. This thesis interrogates the dialogues of internal and external agents that drove change, influenced developments, and negotiated the form and operation of the museum against a background of socio-political change. The thesis illuminates several interrelated factors, such as trends in art production, national political change, policy development, and so on, revealing an institution shaped by its system, constant negotiation, and dynamic change. Rather than pursuing a linear developmental path of the kind commonly used to describe the histories of the world’s great museums, the museum reveals a complex and, at times, disjointed narrative that shows an institution adapting to the rapid political development of South Korea. As such, the thesis sheds light on the contexts and associated agents that repeatedly configured and reconfigured its identity, practices, norms, and discourses. Since the opening of the museum in 1969, there have been a number of scholarly debates that provide a chronological history of its ‘troubled’ identity. Instead of pursuing a biography, this thesis adopts an interpretive lens to probe more deeply into the history of the museum. Drawing upon historiographic and ethnographic research methods, this thesis contends that the museum has been an active art institution which moves and interacts dynamically with the society rather than situates itself as a remote, static, and bureaucratic system.