“A curator is a blessed job. I can work with lots of relics, and I make an effort to preserve them. Also, by showing preserved relics to people, I can get responses and that helps me to make other exhibitions for people.” By cherishing the exhibits, curator Hong Kyungah (HONG) makes a modernized interpretation of them and learns new ideas. With this effort she became the first to be awarded Young Curator of the Year.
SMT What made you become a curator of SMU’s museum?
HONG Nowadays students try hard to become curators. For example, they look for various information and apply for open recruitments. However, in the past there was less information and few people could work in this field. Therefore, first I did not intend to become a curator, but the chief of the SMU museum suggested I become a curator and I accepted it. I did not know anything about what a curator should do at first, so I learned through working in the museum. Meanwhile, the chief
gave me an opportunity to go to France for a week, and she made me to make a 10 year plan on SMU’s museum during the journey. Therefore, I looked around various areas and made two plans as a curator. The first was offering education in the museum. In the ‘90s, education in the museum was not an uncommon thing, so I think we could be ahead as a museum which offers education to
students. In 1994, we started the education of the young and gave lots of information to them. The second was to make a specialized exhibition. Our aim was not to make an exhibition that people can enjoy anywhere, but to display something special and make people come to our museum to see special exhibitions. This was the start of my curator life and still I work as a curator who handles the
education in the SMU museum.
SMT You became the first winner of the Young Curator of the Year award by receiving credit for being concerned about the role of the museum for multicultural families and held exhibitions about them. Is there a special reason that you care about multicultural families?
HONG People usually establish a link between museums and elegant art works, and they also think a museum is a place for those who are interested in art works. However, I think the thing displayed in a museum is a history and life of people. The thing which have a direct bearing with human life and are worth preserving are on display. Globally, cultural diversity is an issue. Now people are talking about respect for man’s life and dignity beyond the issues of nation and race. Moreover, I think now it is time that people select a culture to live in. For example, babies who are born in Korea
go to school in America and work in Europe. We will talk about life and respect of all people regardless of race, and I think the museum can educate about these things. Therefore, I take interest in multi-cultural society and made cross-cultural exhibitions.
SMT Please tell the strength of SMU’s museum.
HONG When I was a university student, I usually went to other universitiy museums because SMU’s museum was not popular at that time. Only a few exhibitions were held in the museum. However, now SMU museum has grown and it is highly ranked as a popular university museum. The school has taken interest in cultural things. Not only the museum but also SMU takes care about students’ cultural knowledge and this has made SMU museum become popular. Now our museum holds 7~10 special exhibitions in a year, and we are trying to give modernized inspiration to students with lots of relics. Also, as we are a university museum, we meet many young people; therefore, we lead a new
exhibition and give various education to students.
SMT There are various kinds of museums. What do you think the university museum
HONG The museum is a non-profit organization, and it is a place which provides cultural service.
More than all, a university museum belongs to higher educational institution, so they should focus on education and run exhibitions. Also, a university museum is frequented by students; therefore, the museum should be concerned about them. Secondly, it should be a place for researchers. For example, students who study about the arts and professors who work with relics. The museum can be a place to assist researchers by providing information. I think these roles are what a university
museum should do different from other museums.
“Now, our society wants people who have flexible thinking. Students should concentrate not only on what they are studying but also on various things. I hope Sookmyungians figure out what our society wants and find a way to contribute to society.”