The rather poorly named Leeum Samsung Museum of Art (an unfortunate collision of “Lee”, surname of the Samsung family who founded the place, and the last half of “museum”) in Seoul, South Korea offers three contemporary architectural giants, and three distinct buildings, for just one low entry fee. Rem Koolhaas, Mario Botta and Jean Nouvel each contributed a building to one of Seoul’s best museums, completed and opened to the public in 2004.
The three buildings of the Leeum (designed by, from left, Rem Koolhaas, Mario Botta and Jean Nouvel) as glimpsed from between the legs of a Louise Bourgouise spider sculpture.
Though none of these three buildings is entirely groundbreaking, not unlike the Leeum itself, each is a decent representation of each architect’s work and seeing them together presents simultaneously a nice contrast of styles within the broader framework of cutting edge architecture. Call it the Traveling Wilburys of museum design. Architecture tourists will want to check the Leeum off their lists, but remember that Seoul’s architecture scene offers much higher highs.