Performance by Nine Dragon Heads at the exhibition opening of “Nomadic Party” at Arko Art Center, Seoul, 2010. Courtesy Nine Dragon Heads
Arko Art Center was established in May 1979, in the former location of Seoul National University, as an institution to support exhibitions under the Korean Culture and Arts Foundation (KCAF). The museum’s red brick building, designed by renowned Korean architect KIM Swoo Geun, has become a symbolic structure in the Daehangno neighborhood of Seoul.
When Arko Art Center was built, there was a vast shortage of exhibition spaces across the nation, and the museum was utilized as both a rental exhibition space and an internally curated exhibition space to support and promote various art organizations and solo exhibitions. With the increase of both public and private museums in the late 1980s, the museum gradually moved toward organizing all of its own exhibitions.
Arko Art Center currently functions as a place where contemporary Korean art and its related discourses are formed through experimental exhibitions that embody interdisciplinary ideas between different genres or media, which are then communicated to the general public through a wide range of educational programs. Additionally, it operates Insa Art Space, a separate alternative space that supports experimental emerging artists and curators, along with the Archive, Seminar Room, and Project Café, which generate a variety of art discourse and functions as a place of communication.