Museum offers front row seat to world of art

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Museum offers front row seat to world of art

It was a most unusual event for gawkers walking along the Gwanghwamun avenue in downtown Seoul: tall fashion models strutting down the runway to jazzy tunes alongside a female performer covered with nothing but flowers, branches and leaves. Nearby, elegantly dressed mothers and daughters sipped red wine and watched artists work.

It was the opening of the Ilmin Museum of Art, titled "One Moment in a Museum." In the usually quiet and conservative cluster of office buildings, the show offered voyeuristic experiences, including a performance, "A Journey to Sing Flowers" by the artist Lee Jae-soon, a fashion show, "Baram 2002" by the designer Lee Kwang-hee, and an oil painting exhibition by Hong Kyung-tack. Following the artistic events was a wine reception for art lovers, curators and artists to mingle.

The renovated glass and steel beam structure already stood out for its bold design; the squeaky clean modern interior of the museum's cafe has become an inviting room for those who enjoy spacious, sun-drenched white space and various Western-style food and beverages. The cafe's coffee is brought from the capital's well-known cafe Harue in southern Seoul. Waffles, cakes and sandwiches served at cafe imA are made from all-American recipes: the BLT sandwich, ham-and-cheese panini and New York cheesecake are excellent choices. With affordable prices for lunch sets (between 8,000 and 9,000 won ($6-7)), which include a choice of sandwiches and a beverage, the cafe might need to start taking reservations.

The museum's coordinator Kim Min-kyung said that organizing such creative events in the downtown was a step toward bringing contemporary art closer to the Korean general public. "Watching artistic events through the pigeonhole-like windows looks already like a form of pop art," Ms. Kim said.

The museum and cafe imA are located between the Kyobo building and the Seoul Finance Center, where Gwanghwamun and Sejongno roads intersect. For more information, contact 02-2020-2062 (Korean service only) or

by Inēs Cho

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