Leeum: Samsung Museum of Art

Two weekends ago, after the fantastic brunch I posted about previously, my UChicago classmate and I explored Itaewon by foot.  Neither of us really knew what Itaewon had to offer, so we wandered around aimlessly with the hope of discovering something interesting.  As it turns out, we did!

We spotted a sign for Leeum, the Samsung Museum of Art, in one of the alleys branching off from the main road.  The name sounded really familiar…and then I realized I had included it as a “must-see” in my oral presentation on sightseeing in Korea (for my Korean class in Chicago, of course)!  Neither of us had anywhere to be and we were right there, so we couldn’t pass it up.

Before even entering the museum itself, two giant spiders (like in Harry Potter, but bigger) loomed up out of nowhere.  We hadn’t seen them from the sidewalk because they’re located on a large deck above street level, so when I first caught sight of them, I was pretty awestruck.  It’s hard not to be when you come across a sculpture of a spider more than four times your height.  The piece is entitled “Maman” (French for mother) and is by Louise Bourgeois, a French-American artist and sculptor.  Back in high school, I went to an exhibit of her work at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) for an art class, which equipped me with some insight into the themes that link much of her artwork.  She bases almost all of her pieces on past experiences and memories from her childhood and is known today as the “mother of confessional art”.  The spiders are pretty incredible to behold.

Inside, we bought tickets that granted us access to the entire museum and were directed to start on the fourth floor of ‘Museum 1’.  Leeum is split into two parts — ‘Museum 1’ is the traditional art wing, while ‘Museum 2’ showcases modern art — so I got to see celadon pottery and large installations in the same visit!  It also turns out this museum is a bit particular about how visitors go about — there were arrows at every turn and plenty of staff on hand to instruct you which way to go.  At least you know you don’t miss anything!

Here are some photo highlights from the afternoon:

A tiny ancient pillow… Ceramic pillows? Who knew!

The awesome spiral building that houses ‘Museum 1’ and the light installation that you can see in the picture of the lobby above.

Another cool installation.

No pictures allowed!

Some rules are meant to be broken…

“PDA not allowed”

A Takashi Murakami piece.

The museum cafe.

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