Historic Seoul Building Reopens as Art Museum
One of Seoul’s modern architectural treasures has reopened as a contemporary art museum. The downtown Space Group building was bought in a surprise purchase last year byKim Chang-il, an art collector and founder of Arario galleries. The Arario Museum in Space opened its doors this month with an inaugural exhibition of Mr. Kim’s personal collection, which features over 200 pieces by 43 international artists. The Space building, which overlooks Changgyeong Palace, is steeped in the country’s contemporary history. Constructed in 1971 (a separate glass building was added in 1997), the structure was designed by the pioneering South Korean architect Kim Swoo-geun, and housed his Space Group architectural firm. Kim Chang-il purchased the building last November for $14.6million after Space Group put it up for sale after filing for bankruptcy protection. The Seoul city government and Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. also mulled buying it. Many observers had feared the building might be demolished. The building incorporates elements of traditional Korean hanok architecture and is comprised of an ivy-covered four-story dark brick structure, which houses the museum. The adjoining five-story glass building features various eateries.