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Museum Hanmi Samcheong Inaugural Exhibition: ‘A History of Korean Photography 1929 – 1982’

exhibition Feb 15, 2023

SPACE February 2023 (No. 663)


Museum Hanmi Samcheong ⓒKim Jaekyeong​ ​


Korea’s first art museum specialising in photography, The Museum of Photography, Seoul, re-opened in Samcheong-dong under the name of ‘Museum Hanmi’ last Dec. The Museum of Photography, Seoul, which was first established in Songpa-gu in 2003, has set up a new space to expand and popularise photography to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its opening. The new art museum located in Samcheong-dong was designed by Min Hyunsik (Kiohun architects and associates). A total of three buildings intersect and connect along the ‘water garden’ located at its centre, allowing visitors to experience a natural circulation according to the flow of the space. The exhibition space was planned to be of 7m floor height that can accommodate various media, considering that photographic media are expanding into the realm that encompasses video and sound. In addition, low-temperature and refrigerated storage was built to preserve 20000 photo collections, and part of the storage was opened as an exhibition space for visitors. 


Exhibition view of ‘A History of Korean Photography 1929 – 1982’ / Image courtesy of Museum Hanmi ​


The inaugural exhibition, ‘A History of Korean Photography 1929 – 1982’ retraces the history of Korean photography over the past 50 years as the Korean photography industry has developed under institutional conditions and historical contexts. Major chronological records of Korean photography history are reconstructed from Jung Haechang’s Solo Exhibition of Art Photography, known as the first solo exhibition by a Korean photographer, to the Limb Eungsik Retrospective, held as part of the Invitational Exhibition of Senior Artists at National Museum of Contemporary Art Deoksugung in 1982. The exhibition is a competition organised according to newspaper groups, covering the 1930s, when the form of artistic and social approval of photographers was established, and the 1950s and 1960s, when extroversion emerged in the Korean photography industry, taking the opportunity of overseas photography competitions. It also covers government and non-government juried exhibitions that dominated the Korean photography industry for more than half a century. The exhibition highlights the work of artists who  have moved out of the system of competition and presented their works through the form of individual exhibition. Through the exhibition, visitors will be able to enjoy approximately 200 pieces of work by about 40 artists, including first-generation photographers such as Limb Eungsik and Joo Myungduck, each capturing the dynamic modern history of Korea with their own perspective, and about 100 archives surrounding the history of domestic photography. Meanwhile, the exhibition is also part of an attempt to reestablish the history of Korean photography after ‘The History of Korean Photography’ (1998), which covered the history of Korean photography for 120 years with about 1000 photographs. Museum Hanmi announced that the exhibition was organised by supplementing  materials from the period of its absence, based on archives and vintage prints related to the history of Korean photography by Limb Eungsik, which was collected twice in 2013 and 2018. The exhibition is on show until Apr.16. by Kim Jia