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Boy attendants of Buddhist templesBonte Museum opens new exhibition
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승인 2013.05.08  13:34:41
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The Bonte Museum was designed by architect Ando Tadao. Photo courtesy Bonte Museum

The newest museum on Jeju has opened its first special exhibition.

“Compassion: Boy Attendants of the Late Joseon Dynasty,” fully utilizing Gallery 2 of the museum complex with 39 pieces, opened on April 27 and will continue through June 30.

The opening reception hosted nearly 200 attendees, among them Governor Woo Keun-min and his wife Park Seung-ryun. Other notable guests included KBS-Jeju Executive Director Lee Jong-hwa, Hallasan Soju CEO Hyun Jae-woong, Jeju Museum of Art Director Kim Hyun-sook, and Lee Jung Seop Gallery Curator Jeun Eun-ja.

Ando Tadao, renowned Japanese architect and 1995 Pritzker Architecture Prize recipient who designed Bonte Museum, was unable to attend but sent a letter of congratulations via his longtime business associate, architect Hidehiro Yano.

Professor Yoo Hong Jun of Myongji University (Department of Art History) gave a presentation on these wooden statues which were once found in Buddhist temples throughout Korea.

Professor Yoo Hong Jun of Myongji University. Photo courtesy Bonte Museum.

Yoo is a noted travelogue author and former national director of the Cultural Heritage Administration. In 2012, he published a guidebook on Jeju, his seventh in a series on cultural heritage and the only one thus far devoted to a single region. At the time of and including the Bonte Museum special exhibition opening, he also led a two-day heritage tour of the island for Jeju Culture Supporters, a civic organization.

Bonte Museum is the vision of its founder, Lee Haeng Ja of the Hyundai family, who for more than 30 years has collected handcraft of the Joseon era and artwork both Korean and international. In her words, the purpose of the museum is “ enhance communication between the traditional and contemporary, and between Korea and the world.”

She would like to see the handcrafts further studied as to their true value in context, and believes that her museum can play a part.

Opened in November of 2012, the museum marked the first anniversary of its groundbreaking with this exhibition opening. The complex includes two distinct two-storey galleries, a music hall, cafe with both indoor and outdoor seating, outdoor sculpture, gardens, waterfall feature, gazebos, aviary, and duck pond, and boasts a view to the sea inclusive of Jeju's iconic and beloved Sanbang Mountain. The contemporary Ando design integrates elements of the Joseon court for a unique blend of traditional and modern styles.

One of the Buddhist statues currently on display at Bonte Museum. Photo courtesy Bonte Museum.

It is a setting that, in true humanist fashion, offers beauty, nature, art, and healing, as well as intellectual discourse.

Madame Lee and the museum director, Kim Sunhee, express a shared desire to build close relationships with the people of Jeju Island, and to network Bonte Museum with other Jeju museums such as Jeju Museum of Art, Lee Jung Seop and Kim Young Gap Galleries, and of course, the galleries of nearby Jeoji Art Village.

They are naturally very welcoming of all visitors, and ultimately want to have an international presence through showcasing at Bonte the work of foreign artists as well as sharing the Bonte collection with overseas galleries and museums. But it is the Jeju community, including local artists, that they especially hope to engage.

Madame Lee envisions her museum as an intellectual, artistic and literary meeting place for the exchange of ideas, much like the “salons” of Western Europe in the 15th through 20th centuries – the very same era as that of Korea's Joseon dynasty.

The facility will soon have a strong educational program, including activities for children and lecture and workshop series for adults, and has established a relationship with the Jeju Department of Education through which schools can arrange field trips to the museum.

The wooden Buddhist statues were on display in Gallery 2. Photo courtesy Bonte Museum.

Many special events are currently in consideration, and may include “Museum After Dark” evening viewing hours, “Summer Saturday Nights Under the Stars” cafe events, “Dancing in the Moonlight” on the patio adjacent to the pond, chamber concerts, film viewings, and more. The museum is also available for private reservation, and has already hosted birthday parties, private tours, dinners, and other events.

Upcoming special exhibitions are in the early planning stages, to include international as well as local artists. Monthly tours in English, Chinese and Japanese, and corresponding materials in these languages, will be available in the near future. Most staff members are conversant in English.

The museum will be highlighted in a special tour and luncheon for attendees of the upcoming Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity, to include the former prime minister of Japan, Hatoyama Yukio. They will also host a private dinner during that time to include another key speaker of Jeju Forum, BPW International President Freda Miriklis.

Bonte Museum is located within the Pinx Biotopia / Podo Hotel and Golf Club grounds in Andeok-myeon, southwest Jeju Island. It is near Route 1115 and 6 k.m. from its crossing with Route 1135 at the Jeoji-Geumak exit, well marked by local signs. Gallery 1 and the cafe are wheelchair accessible.

For more information visit: Bonte Museum (Korean only; English site coming soon) or call, 064-792-8108.

Dr. Hilty is a cultural psychologist from New York who now makes Jeju Island her home. She is a consultant for Bonte Museum.

ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (
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