Museum educator Kim blooms youth’s artistic spirits
Museum educator Kim blooms youth’s artistic spirits
  • Kim Hye-won
  • 승인 2015.09.12 10:35
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Kim I-sak, the director of Hello Museum, guides children to embrace dream and creativity through art play and exhibitions. Photo provided by Kim I-sak.
Thinking of a head director of an art museum, one might imagine a sophisticated and elegant figure who deals with expensive art pieces. However, director Kim I-Sak, who likens herself to a taekwondo teacher, is an adventurous, combative and free-spirited artist and educator. She is not only a manager of an art gallery in which she seeks for alternatives to previous rules of the world, but also an educator who teaches children through play and communication. Given the unfamiliar title, “museum educator,” Kim I-Sak is a chief director of Hello Museum, a museum that inspires and nurtures children’s dreams and creativity through art exhibitions.
From early in her childhood, Kim particularly enjoyed education outside school. Especially interested in museums, she began to dream about sharing the world of museum with others. Building careers in museums and galleries in the hope of becoming a curator, Kim came across the field of museum education by chance and became instantly drawn to it.
“It is without doubt that work for children is the most beautiful and meaningful work in the world,” Kim said. “Because I realized what I eventually wanted was to encourage people to have active and ingenious experiences from exhibitions, I decided to become an exhibition planner who can actively relate children to good education program.”
Kim’s first exhibition as “museum educator” was “Touch Touch Art Play Exhibition” for children held in 2005. The exhibition is still evaluated as one of the most unconventional and ingenious exhibitions to this day. To Kim, that exhibition remains as her one of the most memorable works.
“It took the format of an experiential exhibition, an exhibition where art pieces are completed through participation and active interpretation of visitors – a concept that was new at the time,” Kim said. “It was then that I began to participate as an exhibition planner for kids’ museums and exhibitions later on.”
Running Hello Museum for more than eight years from then, Kim has established firm philosophy in managing the museum and planning exhibitions.
“I expanded the range of my interests from humans to all living things,” Kim explained. “Animal protection and environmental sustainability became parts of Hello Museum’s main philosophy. The purpose of our museum is to encourage children and their families to nurture cultural capacity that embraces every living thing on earth.”
However, Kim often faces challenges running Hello Museum since the concept of education museum is still unfamiliar to the public.
“One of the difficulties is that we have to satisfy both children and their parents at the same time,” Kim said. “It is important for parents to note that children innately understand art better than adults. One should never overlook a child’s level of understanding and artistry.”
Another chronic hardship was financial difficulties. As a museum of an unfamiliar concept, Kim had struggled with the financial management for the first eight years until she met C Program, an enterprise established for social contribution, the current supporter of Hello Museum.
Despite these difficulties, Kim feels a magnitude of reward when communicating with children who come to see the exhibitions. Even as a chief director, she tries her best to conduct the art education by herself so that she can play and talk with children face-to-face. Everyday, Kim makes eye contact with kids, makes jokes with them and shares curiosity and reviews about art pieces and her job.
Director Kim's most rewarding moment of life as a museum educator is when directly communicating and playing with the children visitors. Photo provided by Kim I-sak.
“I remember various moments that gave me comfort and a sense of reward,” Kim recalled. “Memories of a boy who got taller than me over the years of visiting our museum in elementary school, and a girl returning to the museum with her little sister and visitors coming a long way are all precious memories. Also, watching our staff members develop as much as to take up my role is very rewarding.”
Recently, Hello Museum moved its location from Gangnam to Geumho. Kim explains the reason of moving from the hottest area in Korea to a rather humble street was to become a “neighborhood museum.”
“Running a kids’ gallery in Gangnam seemed like parents and children often thought of the museum as an institution,” Kim said. “I did not want our museum to be a prestigious place, open only to certain people. I wanted it to be perceived as a place where any child can visit and play freely. I also have further plans to expand such neighborhood museums to other culturally undeveloped areas.”
The ultimate goal and direction of Hello Museum is in line with the concept of “neighborhood museum.”
“My ideal is to make a small gallery that people can comfortably enjoy,” Kim explained. “I hope Hello Museum to have a unique identity, whose brand story is naturally attractive and contents are novel.”

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