Paper and steel make transitory museum itself a work of artistry

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Paper and steel make transitory museum itself a work of artistry

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More than 100 photographs and paintings of 30 women and display art from 30 brands are on display in a temporary museum made of mainly paper and steel shipping containers. The Papertainer Museum, located in Olympic Park, southeastern Seoul, uses a total of 356 10-meter-high (33-foot) paper tubes used as pillars and 166 containers, plus some wood and other materials. The building’s designer, Shigeru Ban, explained that the museum can be disassembled, transported and rebuilt in a different place.
Mr. Ban, a Japanese architect, began using paper as a construction material in 1986 and built a large exhibition hall with paper for the Hanover Expo of 2000. He also built “nomadic” museums in New York in 2005 and Los Angeles in 2006 to house Gregory Colbert’s “Ashes and Snow” exhibition. The three-month long exhibition in New York attracted more than 500,000 visitors.
“I was interested in using alternative materials. In the beginning, I just wanted to use paper, but transporting paper is not so easy. To reduce the amount of paper to be transported, I adopted containers as well. Containers are available everywhere,” Mr. Ban said.
The construction of the museum was to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Design House, a local publisher. It was built with similar techniques to those used for the nomadic museum, and only the exhibition contents differ.
The museum consists of two parts. Past the paper tubes that highlight the building’s facade, visitors can see display art from 30 brands in the rectangular lobby. Two entrances inside the lobby lead to a half-moon shaped inner hall, which is showing 30 paintings and photographs of 30 women from Korean history. The entire exhibition is titled, “Spotlight 30 Women, Spotlight 30 Brands.”
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In the lobby, a brand display for Hansol Paper by Jo Hong-rae stands out as one of the most unique and innovative images. The front wall of the exhibition room has a bass speaker mounted inside it, with low sounds from the speaker echoing and vibrating.
Another display for Eagon, a maker of wooden interior materials, by Jeong Gyu-tae has wooden poles that are mounted on the wall and stretch outward. The display for Samsung’s flat screen television Pavv by Kim Hyeon has a glassless window, through which visitors can see lighted poles with colorful patterns. Hana Bank by Lee Yong-duk shows a hollow image of a car indented on the wall.
Among the “Spotlight 30 Women,” Noh Sun-tag’s Mrs. Yuhwa is a Gustav Klimt-style mosaic photograph of an egg. Mrs. Yuhwa was a legendary figure and the mother of King Jumong, the founder of Goguryeo Dynasty. According to legend, she laid a large egg, from which the future king hatched out.
Lee Joong-keun’s Princess Hong of Hyegyeonggung depicts the life of a tragic princess whose husband, Crown Prince Sado, was put in a rice chest due to party rivalries and was kept there till his death. With computer graphics, Mr. Lee replicated images of figures in the royal court with the figures standing according to their status. The image depicts the political situation in which the princess was placed.
Lee Yong-baek’s Shim Cheong shows a photographic image of a diver in water. The diver looks if she is wearing a space suit. Shim Cheong is a character in a Joseon Dynasty fiction. The dutiful daughter sacrificed herself by jumping into the sea in exchange for 300 bags of rice, to petition the gods to enable her blind father to see.


by Limb Jae-un

Admission costs 6,000 won to 10,000 won, including a ticket to the “Budroum: Softness” exhibition at the Seoul Olympic Park Museum of Art. The exhibition continues until Dec. 31, after which the Papertainer building will be dismantled.
To get to the museum, get off at Mongchon Toseong subway station, line No. 8, exit 1.
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