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[Beautiful Library in Korea ①]

Art Library Of Uijeongbu

A Public platform serving as both library and art gallery

 

2022.02.14

 

 

Recently, libraries that offer more than reading experiences have been springing up across the country. Art Library of Uijeongbu, opened in November 2019, combined the different areas of library and art gallery, boasting a great deal of beauty and practicality both in the exterior and interior of the building. The library plays the roles of not just a library but an art gallery in Uijeongbu city which hasn’t run its own art gallery before. The opening was great news for residents longing for cultural infrastructure. When searching for art reference materials, residents were often reliant on reading rooms in art museums such as the National Museum of Contemporary Art, where lending and accessing books were challenging. But, the opening of the Art Library of Uijeongbu now allows anyone to borrow or refer to such publications with ease. The combination of a public library and art gallery made the art library an established public platform for art and culture, the first facility of its kind in the country.

 

A new experiment in local culture and art

 

The beautifully curved building arouses people's curiosity, making them wonder, “what is the building for?” After noticing that it had combined an art gallery and a library, the first impression of uniqueness rather than unfamiliarity encourages them to visit there one time. The art library greets visitors with a sculpture, “Mother and Son,” inspired by the works of painter Baek Young-soo. The overall impression is far from the stereotypical image of public buildings.
When you step into the building, it offers a full view of a wide-open space from the first to third floors. Art Library of Uijeongbu, built with the concept of “connection, openness, communication,” offers all open spaces without walls and has low bookshelves, allowing visitors to communicate freely. The spiral stairs at the center keep all the floors connected as one. The concept of “connection, openness, communication” is not just about people, books, and artworks. The round glass ceiling above the stairs illuminates the library, and the clear glass wall puts the whole building in harmony with nature. The view of nature changing from time to time serves as an interior wall. A glance at the view away from the books offers a relaxing escape. You can see how meticulously the building was designed.

 

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Interior of the first floor of Art Library Of Uijeongbu

 

View of the first floor from the third floor

 

A library embracing an art gallery

 

Art Library of Uijeongbu has three sections: art, children, and general. Artbooks and exhibitions are in the Art Ground on the 1st floor. Various domestic and foreign art books are on display on the shelves, boasting beautiful covers. The bookshelves were designed to make the book covers stand out as if they were in a bookstore, contrasting to other libraries where towering shelves are packed with books. In addition, specially designed transparent bookends are placed to draw visitors' attention. It is unique how the curved bookshelves are arranged in a circle around the reading space. Reading books there in the middle makes you feel like you are the main character in a novel.
Among a variety of art books, there is a section for hard-to-find art magazines and art brochures of the National Museum of Modern Art and Seoul Museum of Art. Also, several reference materials about the New Realism Group (a group of abstract expressionists who emerged after the Liberation) are exhibited on a bookshelf on the first floor. So, this is a place for reference materials of the New Realism Group, including Lee Jung Seob, globally known for his fairy tale style, and Baek Young-soo, who continued creative work in his studio in Uijeongbu (present-day Baek Young-soo Museum). And, around the stairs leading to the second floor are several art books on display, chosen by librarians along with some props fitting the theme of January. Next to them is a famous British artist David Hockney’s A Bigger Book, drawing visitors’ attention. As it is the limited edition for which only 9,000 copies were produced worldwide, some visitors come to the library just to see this book.
As such, the loan rate for art books in Art Library of Uijeongbu is three times higher than that of other libraries. This is possibly because the library offers some hard-to-find art publications and the best reading environment.

 

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Art magazines, art brochures, and publications of New Realism Group

 

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Librarians’ recommendations and David Hockney’s artwork

 

The highlight here is the special exhibition hall on the first floor. Just because it belongs to a museum, you shouldn’t think of it as just another exhibition. The theme changes regularly, giving a chance for visitors to appreciate artworks of various painters. A new theme brings a new change to the exhibition space by installing partitions and lighting well-matched with artworks when needed, allowing visitors to savor an art gallery feel in the library.
Art Library of Uijeongbu is presenting an exhibition of works by artists Vakki and Jihee Kim with a theme of “See, Make, Paint” until March 3, 2022. These artists are all active in art and will present a unique and cheerful pleasure for visitors. In particular, the “See, Make, Paint” exhibition is more meaningful as it is the first exhibition where visitors can join artists’ works since the opening of the library. Around 40 works, including drawings, paintings, installation arts, are on display, with four among them being participatory art, fully activating the audience’s imagination.

 

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Displayed artworks by Vakki and Jihee Kim

 

 

A pleasant reading environment for visitor satisfaction

 

When you get to the General Ground on the second floor, collections of children’s books and general books are waiting for readers. The two sections are divided by the stairs with different carpet colors, which is quite impressive. And the children’s book section is decorated in a way that allows children to freely read books as if it were a small playroom. A part of the section is dedicated to reading books to children so that they can be more familiar with books. The reason why the general book section is on the same floor is to encourage both adults and children to read a book they want in the same place. As such, the Art Library of Uijeongbu is seeking to keep visitors satisfied by meeting the needs of various audiences.
In Multi-Ground on the third floor, there are also books in general fiction. As the name of Multi-Ground implies, the place serves various purposes to attract more visitors. Another place, ‘Donation zone’, presents books donated by individuals and organizations such as the Honolulu Museum of Art, those affiliated with the art museum, and also the prizes that it won, such as Korean Architecture Award 2020 and Korean Cultural Space Award 2020. Also, a book donated by RM, a member of K-POP band BTS, is on display. If you are a fan of K-POP, it is worth visiting there at least once. ‘Open Studio’ is a space to support creative work by promising budding artists, offering a workspace for new artists who are chosen twice a year. The open studio surrounded by transparent walls allows for communication between artists and audiences. Finally, in ‘Program Zone,’ visitors can freely participate in the hands-on activities related to the exhibition on the first floor. So, do not miss out on the artistic experience.

 

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Books donated by Honolulu Museum of Art and RM, a member of BTS

 

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Open Studio and Program Zone

 

Librarians’ book recommendations displayed on each floor are a good way to enjoy this art library where librarians nominate books in arts, children, and general genre, based on the theme of each month. There are a total of four sections for recommended books, regardless of genre and theme, curating more books than other libraries. Art library of Uijeongbu is seeking to offer a fulfilling experience by understanding the convenience and needs of visitors to operate the facility better. By combining two different areas of library and art gallery, Art library of Uijeongbu offers a refreshing and unique experience for visitors. Visit the place one day to immerse yourself in the joy of books and art.

 


A short interview with Art library of Uijeongbu

1. For visitors, are there any Must-See things in Art library of Uijeongbu?

One is a section for foreign books and the other is the exhibition hall on the first floor. We have many foreign art books that are rarely found in other libraries. As they are normally printed in a large format, you can appreciate them in more detail. Also, we hold a special exhibition organized by our curator three times a year. As such, enjoying the artworks in the exhibition is one of the greatest things of a visit to our library.

 

2. If you have a book to recommend to overseas visitors, please introduce it.

We would like to recommend a book titled BIRTH OF THE MODERN ART MUSEUM (Misulmunhwa, 2018), which is an art brochure of the special exhibition “BIRTH OF THE MODERN ART MUSEUM(2018.5.3.~2018.10.14.)” organized by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art at MMCA Deoksugung Gallery. The book introduces the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, one of the leading art museums in the country, and prominent artists and their masterpieces that represent Korean modern art among its collections. As such, the book would help readers better understand the history of modern Korean art and Korean culture.

 

3. What kind of place do you want this art museum to be?

There are not many cultural spaces open to residents in Uijeongbu city, which was the main reason behind the foundation of the Art library of Uijeongbu. Looking at many people visiting here made us believe that our intention was well delivered. Hopefully, Art library of Uijeongbu will bring visitors a great experience as a rest area that connects books and art.

 

 

Art Library Of Uijeongbu
Homepage: www.uilib.go.kr/art/index.do
Phone: +82-31-828-8870
Address: 248, Minrak-ro, Uijeongbu-si, Gyeonggi-do

 

 

 

 

 


Written by Choi Ha-Yeong

 

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Choi Ha-Yeong

#Library#Art gallery#Art Library Of Uijeongbu#Uijeongbu#Public platform
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