Arko Art Center was established in May of 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 the renowned Korean architect KIM Swoo Geun has become a symbolic structure in Daehangro.
When it 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 80’s the museum gradually moved towards organizing all of its exhibitions. Starting in the late 90’s it strengthened its role as a leading public museum bringing forth a fresh new paradigm shift in contemporary Korean art as it started to fulfill its function as a pioneering institution. In 2005 when the Korean Culture and Arts Foundation (Kcaf) was reborn as Arts Council Korea (Arko) the Arko Art Center introduced an Artistic Directorship to strengthen the professionalism and responsibility of its management.
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 is then communicated to the general public through a wide range of educational programs. Furthermore, it operates a collaborative program called <Museum as Hub> between five international museums including New York’s New Museum to build a global network and organizes numerous international exchange exhibitions to strengthen its regional and international network.
Additionally, it operates Insa Art Space, a separate alternative space, to support experimental emerging artists and curators along with the Archive, Seminar Room, and Project Café to generate a variety of art discourse and functions as a place of communication.