MMCA Seoul, South Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, has garnered a lot of public attention and criticism since its opening in November 2013. The criticism largely arises from allegations of the museum’s curator Chung Hyung-Min, a Seoul National University (SNU) graduate, displaying a bias for the Zeitgeist Korea collection. Currently, over 75% of the featured artists for that exhibition are SNU alum. What price tag merits that kind of scrutiny over such a decision? A hefty $230 million dollar cultural investment. MMCA boasts world-class exhibitions and facilities with an approximate 6:4 ratio of Korean to International art. The first national museum for modern art for this city, MMCA Seoul attempts to follow the likes of New York City’s MOMA and other prominent modern art museums around the world.

In general, the museum has been warmly received by residents and tourists alike. My personal favorite collection was the Aleph Project, combining science, art, and architecture into highly intriguing installations. A large open floor plan, vast grids of windows, lots of natural light, and architectural minimalism provides a very fitting backdrop for the modern art pieces displayed there. Outside, a restored hanok-style government building from the Joseon Dynasty sits in contrast to the sleek main hall. Inside, high contrast lighting and shadows provides great photo ops in most areas. Check out to find more information on the MMCA Seoul.

For those that have been, and those that haven’t, the following aims to shed new light on some of the brilliant architectural layout and artwork seen there through a photographer’s perspective. “Through the Lens” will become a series, showcasing photographic locations, and what better way to kick it off than with the MMCA Seoul. You’ll definitely want to bring your point-and-shoot or DSLR here if you have one! All photos shot and edited by RL.

Traditional meets modern

Traditional meets modern

Warm chair sunset

Warm Chair by Do Ho Suh.



Ahjummas converse

Ahjummas converse

Home within a home

Home Within Home by Do Ho Suh. Fine transparent silk reveals life-size models of his childhood Hanok home (traditional Korean home), past American home in Rhode Island, and more encased in each another.

MMCA aleph project

Big Brother is Watching

Kids playing light wall

Kids play in front of the LED art installation

Portrait lighting and shadows

Epiphyte Chamber; lighting and shadows made by both a delicate structure and onlookers, as visitors themselves become part of the art.

Aleph project photographer

Part of the Aleph Project. (Epiphyte Chamber)

Aleph project caughtgramming


Mirror image MMCA


Gin Hong Sok's installation

Artist Gin Hong Sok’s installation

Shadow kaleidoscope

Shadow kaleidoscope

Guy under light

Lone light

Directions: Gyeongbokgung Station Exit 5, or Anguk Station Exit 1. Take a right once you’re out of Anguk Station, and go straight until you reach the East wall of Gyeongbokgung palace. Take a right once you see the wall (no need to cross the street) and after a minute you’ll see MMCA Seoul on your right side.

MMCA Seoul 국립현대미술관 서울관
30 Samcheong-ro Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-3701-9500

About The Author


An eclectic soul with a diverse background, Rob has lived in Korea for the past 5 years. An avid interest in Korean culture, high-quality media, and content led him to co-founding SeoulSync. On his down time he plays ball, visits museums, explores new places, and shoots. These days, he channels his photography into the @seoulsync IG and his own personal @rlvism account.