January 7, 2012 - National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea - UUL, Seoul branch
January 7, 2012

UUL, Seoul branch

UUL, Seoul branch

To Your Service in 2013

97 Yulgokro 1st Street Jongno-gu, Seoul KOREA

A plot located in the urban area, Historical & Cultural District, near Bukchon and the Special Planning Zone of Defense Security Command

Architecture Design
mp_Art / SIAPLAN Consortium

Major Facilities
About 10 Exhibition halls, a multi-purpose hall, a theater and a multimedia library, VIP lounge, Museum shop, Restaurant and Café.

Scope of Building
Three basement levels and three floors above ground (gross area 52,101.38㎡)


The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea is pleased to announce that a new museum UUL is scheduled to be opened in Seoul, Korea at the end of 2013. The new museum will serve as a fresh venue, both intimate and global, to experiment and engage with diverging cultural and artistic experiences of contemporary life within the vibrant atmosphere of Seoul. The contemporary art scenes of Korea have steadily thrived at home and abroad for the last few decades in tandem with the phenomenal growth of the Asian contemporary art in the international arena.  Being a significant exponent of Asian art, Korean contemporary art, through concerted ideas and efforts of domestic art professionals and the art-loving public, is set to make another great leap. It looks at the global art scene from a vantage-point of an active participant and an enriching asset, for forging the diverse contents of the contemporary art world. In order to share such vision and passion, the new museum will endeavour to build an extensive cultural infra-structure based upon the open-minded cooperation and exchange of people within and outside the Korean art scene. At the same time, it intends to create a holistic site where the past is grasped and reflected with a sense of the future, through the lens of the present. In this way, canonical concerns are aptly intermingled with adventurous dare, in a flexible response to the zeitgeist of the times. The confluence of the diverse, cultural and artistic experience and exploration at the new museum will make a path for fermenting new cultural contents and discourses, which will be able to contribute to creating a new paradigm of the art world.

The new museum is christened UUL, a polysemic word, capturing how the Koreans envisage the new museum in the contemporary context. It echoes the sound ‘ul’ in ‘Seoul’ and it is also the abridged form of the Korean word uri, which is the English equivalent of ‘we’.  Uri implicates a sense of belonging and the Koreans’ own pride in the cultural and artistic achievements born through a tumultuous industrialization and democratization, which was accompanied by social and historical challenges. Yet at the same time, the word affirms the Koreans’ sense of will that wishes to preserve and nurture the artistic presence in society; art will remain within us and our lives. ‘Our’ new museum UUL shall stay as a sentinel endearingly reminding the contemporaries and posterities, of the immeasurable significance of art in society. In a different vein, the Korean word ul refers to the low fences of traditional Korea, where neighbours and passers-by never seemed intrusive upon chatting or looking in over the low barrier. Thus, the term ul nowadays tends to sedate the contemporary Koreans towards the ingenuous aspect of friendly interaction that had once occurred inside and outside of the ul. The museum UUL embraces the poetic relevance and the traditional wisdom of the ul in a contemporary sensibility. Forsaking the imposing high enclosure for protection and exclusion, the new museum willingly lowers its fence, offering its physical site to facilitate the interaction of art and everyday life. UUL aspires to present and showcase various susceptible moments of capturing the communicative activities among different ideas and beliefs of the contemporary world.

The core concept of the new museum UUL is wittingly embodied in its logo which is a fluid and rhythmical combination of lines and dots; their shape is derived from a tree. The composition of the logo by means of simplified and yet basic elements of lines and dots have the resonance of the contemporary sensibility steeped in digital age. What the image of the tree universally conveys is present in the logo of the museum. In the world of art, a form of art is born, developed, exhausted and followed by other works of art, similar to the life circle of a tree. The logo’s visual pattern immediately conveys the image of the new museum as a cultural organism in which a new burst of creative energy is started and bred in spirit of experimenting with the most advanced ideas and methods.

UUL will be located in 36 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, a district of the city that is already well-known for its rich, cultural and historical legacy. The area is home to many contemporary art galleries, both established and emerging, and bustles with art-loving visitors and tourists all throughout the year. In addition, Gyeongbok Palace of the Joseon Dynasty beautifully asserts its historical presence across the road, whilst traditional housing village called Bukchon is sprawled nearby, and there is a scatter of small shops and cafes retaining vestiges of the traditional buildings, evocatively filling up the contemporary atmosphere of the area. The actual site in which the new museum precinct will be ensconced is ingrained with the historical memories of different periods of the past. There were once a few offices of the royal institutions during the Chosun Dynasty period, and the hospital buildings from the Japanese colonial reign which were later converted to the premise of the Special Planning Zone of the Defence Security Command in the 1970s onwards, to name a few. Although it has been a long time since all those old buildings were either relocated or demolished, the latter, a historic remnant of the military institution remains at the site until today. The exterior of the building is still intact with the new museum buildings, and the whole brand-new complex will serenely palpitate with the faded memories of the Korean history.

The architecture of the museum was designed by the consortium of mp_Art Architects and SIAPLAN, headed by the architect Mihn Hyun Jun, and the complex covering the gross area 52,101m² is complete with exhibition halls, a multi-purpose hall, a theatre, a multimedia library, VIP lounge, museum shop, restaurants and cafés. Seen from a bird’s eye view, the key feature of the new museum is that it is shapeless with no defined outlines. Blocks of the buildings are spread around like an archipelago, and the space between and around each building serves as a yard where visitors can walk to the other building or sit down for a rest. Owing to the open-ended system of the architecture, every building has easy access from any direction of the outside of the building. The surrounding area and the interior of buildings are smoothly connected for the benefit of those who explore and move about the exhibition halls. Such architectural fluidity provides the art museum with a space plan that integrates comfort and convenience in the urban context.

The inauguration schedule of the UUL is as follows:

Pre-opening events, October, 2012

Grand opening, the end of 2013

For further information, please refer to the museum’s website, www.uul.go.kr

UUL, Seoul branch of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea
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