Art museums get creative to attract vacationing parents, kids

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Art museums get creative to attract vacationing parents, kids


Clockwise from above,a mother and child enjoy the National Museum of Contemporary Art’s Edu-Studio program; Children at the “Hello, Artist! - Rene Magritte’s Room” exhibition and French illustrator Joelle Jolivet posing with Korean Children at the “Voyage to the French Illustration” exhibition. Provided by the museums

In a modern society that values the latest technology and financial success, the importance of nurturing creativity is often overlooked. Children overloaded with classes and exams rarely have an opportunity to think outside the box during the school year.

Summer vacation is a time for parents to break free from the routine and let children be, well, children.

Lee Kang-yi, a professor at Seoul National University College of Human Ecology, says viewing works of art encourages creativity by enhancing people’s ability to notice details and express what they see in unique ways.

This month, several museums are holding exhibitions geared toward helping children explore art and creativity.

Gangdong Arts Center:

Hello, Artist! - Rene Magritte’s Room

“Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see,” said the renowned Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte.

This exhibition lets children explore the hidden parts of their own minds. Magritte, who built his own artistic world through peculiar ideas, is an icon of creativity.

The exhibition consists of the re-creations of Magritte’s work with children in mind, such as a sculpture of a black hat into which children can climb. Children follow Magritte’s creative process and develop their own ways to be creative, learning the major concepts related to his works like surrealism and depaysement (a disorienting change of scenery) through seeing, hearing and touching.

Going through the four stages of seeing, meeting, being and doing, children first get to question what they believe to be certain, develop their imagination through such deviations and ultimately create a new window, or philosophy, through which to view the world.

Included in the exhibition are workbooks and mazes for children to solve.

“Focusing on the details of the world, however small it is, and looking at them from a different point of view is where creativity begins,” says Kim Ga-woon, curator of the art center. “Magritte is an example of such a fertile mind, and that is why we singled him out as a mentor for these small philosophers.”

The exhibition runs through Aug. 26. Admission is 12,000 won ($10.60). Hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday. Guided docent tours take place at 20 minutes past the hour starting at10:20 a.m. with the last tour at 4:20 p.m. Go to Goduk Station, Line No. 5, exit 4. For more information, visit or call (02) 440-0500.

National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea:


The museum, one of the most prominent in Korea, restructured its “Edu-Studio” in April in a move to strengthen its educational programs. With the theme “Communication with Contemporary Art,” the studio’s five sections are designed to root out prejudice and spark kids’ creativity. “It represents not only communication with works of art but also with the artists and other people,“ says Choi Won-ok, curator of the children’s gallery.

Among programs running during the summer vacation season are workshops with contemporary artists like Nam June Paik; Cafe Atelier, where children can create their own art; and classes about auctions and architectural elements.

“Many museums provide experience- and participation-focused environments, but our programs are special in that we always make children work in groups together with friends or families, so that children could learn some more through interaction,” says Choi.

Meanwhile, current exhibitions at the museum include “MOVE: Art and Dance since the 1960s” and “Ha Chong Hyun Retrospective.”

The studio exhibition is permanent and the summer vacation program run to Aug. 17. Admission is free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (7 p.m. on weekends) Tuesday through Sunday. Go to Seoul Grand Park Station, Line no. 4, exit 4 and take a free shuttle bus to the museum. For more information, visit or call (02) 2188-6137.

Sejong Museum of Art:

Voyage to the French Illustration

For those looking for exhibitions that can satisfy both children and art lovers, “Voyage to the French Illustration” is a good choice.

This is the fifth installment of the most popular illustration exhibition in Korea, the “Voyage to the world of illustration,” started in 2007. It comprises three sections - “Modern Art in Picture Books,” “Thinking Picture Books” and “The World of Fantasy and Adventure” - divided by the three colors of the flag of France.

Visitors can view 250 original illustrations by 20 French artists, including Serge Bloch, Francois Place, Herve Tullet and Joelle Jolivet.

All the art has been inserted in existing picture books, but children, accompanied by the docents, get the chance to exercise imagination and re-create the stories looking at the illustration fragments. The stories unraveled by the children are an attraction in their own right. Children also can fill in workbooks, play games, read the picture books containing the exhibit illustrations and create their own toys.

The exhibition runs to Sept. 9. Admission is 11,000 won for adults and 9,000 won for children. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Go to Gwanghwamun Station, Line No.5, exit 8. For more information, visit or call (02) 730-4360.


Nam Kyung-min’s painting “Annunciation 4 - Invitation,” left, and Kim Byoung-ho’s metal sculpture “A Colloidal Body” are part of Savina Museum of Contemporary Art’s “Brain - Inside of Me” exhibition. Provided by the museum

Savina Museum of Contemporary Art:

Brain - Inside of Me

Attempts to construct a brain map and the tools used to achieve it have undergone many technological advances. In conjunction with such progress, the Savina Museum of Contemporary Art is holding an exhibition to shed light on the relationship between brain types and creativity. Through the work of 14 artists, the exhibition illustrates different types of creativity and the areas of the brain from which they originate.

Researchers categorized the 14 artists into “strongly right-brained,” “right-brained,” “slightly right-brained” and “left- and right-brained” categories based on results of the MSC (brain-based aptitude) test and “Torrance Test of Creative Thinking.”

The exhibition space was designed according to the categories to allow viewers to experience the shifting creative landscape and examine the relationship between brain and art.

“Brain type significantly influences the contents, structure and style of the art they create,” says Kang Jae-hyun, the chief curator. “For instance, left-brained artists tend to focus more on message than form, which is a recent trend in contemporary art. This new perspective of appreciation enhances the viewer’s understanding of artwork and the source of creativity.”

The exhibition runs in conjunction student programs in both Korean and English. “Students will be separated by their school grades and get to extract keywords within the artworks, classifying the keywords into related brain areas. Also included in the programs are brain tests and drawing about the profession that suits their own brain types,” says Park Min-young, the museum’s public relations manager.

The exhibition runs to Oct. 19. Admission is 3,000 won for adults. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Go to Anguk Station, Line No.3, exit 1. For more information, visit or call (02) 736-4371.

By Diane Lee contributing writer [ ]

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