The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art is a museum in Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, run by the Samsung Foundation of Culture. It comprises two parts that house traditional Korean art and contemporary art. Museum 1 is designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta and Museum 2 is by French architect Jean Nouvel and Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas designed the Samsung Child Education & Culture Center.
Museum 1, designed by Mario Botta, houses a collection of traditional Korean art, of which 36 pieces are designated national treasures. Included in the collection are landscapes and folk paintings, traditional ceramics and porcelain, such as Celadon and Buncheong, a bluish-green traditional Korean stoneware. As well as 14th century daggers, crowns, earrings and ornaments; and Buddhist art, sculptures, paintings and manuscripts.
Museum 2, designed by Jean Nouvel, features modern and contemporary art from both Korean and foreign artists. Many famous artists such as Damien Hirst, Warhol, Rothko, Yves Klein and Donald Judd have permanent exhibition spaces. The basement levels of the museum face the sunken garden and gabion walls. The gabion cages are composed of iron and filled with rocks unearthed during the construction process. The sunken garden includes birch trees and ferns.
Seemingly floating in place, Nouvel’s creation personifies modern art’s constant growth, evolution, and challenge/inquisition of society. Nouvel used extra white glass and rusted stainless-steel, the first to do so, to create the exhibition boxes. Many tests were performed before the current black-filmed stainless-steel could be created. The freely arranged exhibition boxes penetrate the glass skin and allow for a more controlled exhibition space. Light and other factors can be readily controlled for each box. The main exhibition hall in Museum 2 is a completely open space without any supporting posts thanks to post-tension building techniques.
Rem Koolhaas was charged with designing the Samsung Child Education & Culture Center as well as the museum’s master plan. The main entrance into the lobby of Museum 1 is through Koolhaas’s glass structure. As they enter the museum, visitors follow along on a wooden ramp and pass under a pavilion, demarcating the threshold. He used pilotis which not only lighten the structure but also provide a view of the surrounding buildings and site. The skin of the three story outer building is composed of steel and glass. Inside, a mixing chamber was created between the glass wall and Black box and the placement of lighting, piloti and ramps. The Black concrete box holds different exhibits.