Seoul Museum of Art

Seoul Museum of Art

The current site of Seoul Museum of Art was first used as the site for the Royal English School, which was established in 1886 and provided American-style education. The school was soon dismantled, and in1895, Pyongri-Won, Korea’s first modern court of justice, was installed in its place. In 1928, the court building was demolished by the Japanese colonial government to build the Court of Kyeongseong, (the name for Seoul during the Japanese occupation). Following Korean independence in 1945, the building was used to house the Supreme Court. In 1995, the Supreme Court moved to its current location in Seocho-dong, and the building has been used as Seoul Museum of Art since 2002.

In the process of transforming the former court building into an art museum, the city government decided to preserve as much of the building as possible, on account of its historical importance. However, due to the possibility of structural weakness caused by the effects of time, only the building’s main façade was preserved. The building’s original Japanese plan featured two atriums and a central staircase, with offices and courts on either side of the open space. The renovated building maintains a link to its predecessor by means of its large atrium that connects its historic façade with its exhibition spaces.  Light entering the atrium through its class ceiling expresses different periods of time, and the entire composition is a triumphant hybrid of Japanese colonial architecture and modern exhibition facilities.

As of 2 March 2006, the building has been a registered cultural property (registration number 237).

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