Design students Kim Min-soo and Lim Hyun-jin are out for a museum date. It has been long since the couple’s last visit to museums and galleries due to the social distancing restrictions. The first exhibition they decided to visit is Ottchil, the Coated Splendor of Asian Lacquerwares. Minsoo likes the works of Chung Hae-cho, a Korean ottchil artist and became interested in lacquerware after learning that ottchil, a Korean traditional lacquer technique, can be used to create sophisticated and modern expressions. “I came here to see the lacquer-themed exhibition and it was interesting to learn about the history of lacquer as well as the process of lacquerware-making.”, said Min-soo.
Hyun-jin added, “I was fascinated by the making of Najeon-lacquerware which I saw at my grandmother’s house when I was young. Videos and timelines were useful in helping me understand and will help make a lasting memory.”
Both Min-soo and Hyun-jin agreed that a media art installation featuring lacquer trees at the entrance was particularly impressive. Before stepping into the exhibition hall, the black and white video of lacquer trees projected on long, tree-like drapes offers a sensory experience of the exhibition theme.
The National Museum of Korea has recently begun to incorporate a wider range of interactive and immersive technologies into its exhibitions including media art and augmented reality. How do Millennials and Generation Z like Min-soo and Hyunjin feel about these new attempts?
“In the past, exhibition format was limited to flat surfaces such as written text, paintings and photographs whereas now there seems to be a greater emphasis on interactive exhibitions which allow for visitors to explore objects threedimensionally. The National Museum of Korea appears to follow this trend and we enjoyed how it enables us to see familiar relics in a new light.”
The couple also expressed concern with the recent surge in popularity may result in museums overusing cutting-edge technologies. “Not everything needs to be digitized. The contrast between actual objects and digital-media reproduction can be too great at times and it interrupts the experience. Some relics are best viewed on their own to allow viewers to discover their true value. As the National Museum handles historical relics and valuable collections, we wish for the museum to devote more considerations towards the best practices to display and observe them in detail. In our opinion, this exhibition seems to maintain a good balance between media art, video and artifacts.”
The pair usually checks out arts and culture events on visual art platforms such as ArtHub or social media channels and according to them, Millennials and Gen Z respond the most to social media posts and virtual reality spaces which many institutions actively use to communicate and engage. “We find social media platforms incredibly efficient because it helps save time thinking and making decisions. ‘The Peaceful Hill’ which the National Museum recently launched on the metaverse platform ‘Zepeto’ was very intriguing. Public engagement and promotion on social media platforms still appear to be a lot more effective and in fact the new generation actually feels far more comfortable and familiar with this virtual digital realm. But, all of these only become meaningful when things in the actual world are well in order first.”
Holding exhibition flyer which they intend to bring home for memory’s sake, the couple said they are going to post this memorable experience about the special exhibition Ottchil, the Coated Splendor of Asian Lacquerwares on their social media.