For the first time, the national art museum welcomes dogs as guests
The exhibition “A Museum for All, a Museum for Dog” asks how humans can better coexist with dogs
Published : Sep 23, 2020 - 18:00
Updated : Sep 25, 2020 - 16:52
Installation view of “A Museum for All, a Museum for Dogs” at MMCA Seoul in Jongno-gu, central Seoul (MMCA)

An increasing number of people in South Korea live with companion animals, with approximately 30 percent of households having at least one. As the concept of dogs being a part of the family has grown considerably stronger in the country, more people are asking how people can better coexist with dogs in society.

In response, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, has unveiled the first-ever exhibition in Korea that can be enjoyed with companion dogs. The exhibition, titled “A Museum for All, a Museum for Dog,” features 20 works from 13 artists and art teams. While strolling around the exhibition halls with their owners, dogs will be attracted to some artworks that stimulate their visual and olfactory senses.

“I wanted to show that our society does not consist only of humans. If considering that society consists of diverse creatures, I thought we should take non-humans into account,” said Sung Yong-hee, the curator of the exhibition, at a press preview on Monday. “We want the museum to become a place that provokes diverse social discussions.” 

Installation view of “A Museum for All, a Museum for Dogs” at MMCA Seoul in Jongno-gu, central Seoul (MMCA)

In the main exhibition hall, dogs will be able to closely approach a sculptural work made by Jeong Yeon-doo and sniff around the work. Made of dog food, the sculpture -- titled “Togo and Balto -- A Group Sculpture of a Canine Hero Who Saved Humanity” -- shows three sled dogs pulling a sled day and night with the mission of delivering the immunity serum needed to save children from a fatal plague in Alaska in 1925.

Some works provoke visitors to think about how to better understand dogs as members of society. The three-minute animation “Hello there” by David Shrigley shows conversations between Mr. Dog and an unnamed character off screen, who ask each other questions while playing fetch to explore different identities.

Outside the museum is “Dream of Dog,” which has become a playground for dogs under the theme of “future forest for dogs.” Objects used in dog agility games and colors that the dogs can recognize -- yellow and blue -- are set up in the forest.

Before the pandemic hit the country, the exhibition was scheduled to open in May, known as “Family Month” in Korea. The exhibition, however, was pushed back to October due to the spread of COVID-19.

The museum is currently closed due to the government’s social distancing guidelines for the metropolitan area. When the museum reopens, four performances will take place at the museum, including “Curious Child” by Nam Hwa-yeon, which will involve taking a stroll around the museum with robot dog Aibo.

Film screenings will also be prepared, including “Adieu au Langage” by Jean-Luc Godard, which explores towns through the eyes of a dog named Roxy, with poetic quotes that condemn the absurdity of the world of humans and their folly.

The museum is set to open when the social distancing guidelines go down to Level 1 from the current Level 2.

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