Kyungwon Kang

Museums and galleries have to find a new way to approach their audiences
Kyungwon Kang
Internship at Bucket Travel in South Korea

The project I worked on in the company was to make audio tour guides for museums and galleries from all over the world for a Korean audience. Koreans face difficulties when visiting museums and galleries because only the big museums have audio guides in the Korean language. Even if there is a Korean audio guide available, the contents usually are very limited. There were 5 to 6 other people doing the same type of work in the company, and we all worked with the specific museums/galleries we were specialized in.

As I was the person to start the project, my main task was to record major museums. I have recorded the explanation for artworks in The National Gallery, London; Tate Britain, London; Scottish National Gallery of Arts, Edinburgh; Musée du Louvre, Paris; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam and Mauritshuis, Den Haag. I had to make courses for the listeners to follow, explain the features of the artwork and the artist, and contact the museum and find out if the artwork’s copyright issue (usually after 70 years of the artist’s death) was solved or outdated.

Coronavirus has affected my internship plan dramatically. I was originally planning to do an internship in a gallery or an auction house. However, since the coronavirus breakout, internships were cancelled in museums that I applied to and I wanted to return to South Korea for my safety. Tourism industry has collapsed since coronavirus. Bucket Travel was one of the companies that had a serious crisis, and through this, they started a new business of making this tour guide app. I luckily was able to participate in this.

I see great possibilities for the future of the cultural industry. Even though the cultural industry is expanding and widening its field and capabilities, museums and galleries were usually for an elite audience of art-lovers. It was considered high-end culture, similar to opera or ballet. Since the lockdown and because of the social distancing, museums and galleries have to find a new way to approach their audiences. One of the new, sustainable and accessible ways to enjoy art is through an application. It can serve as podcast as well as the audio guide at the site. I think digitalization will be the new theme for the arts and cultural industry.

For more than 5 years, I was a tour guide in France, the United Kingdom and South Korea. One of my colleagues who was working in Germany is now the founder/CEO of Bucket Travel. She offered me this internship since she participated in some of my tours in England, and she wanted my voice to be in her project.

The course about the History of Western Arts & Culture provided me the basis and details for my knowledge on history of arts and its contexts. However, knowledge was one thing; most importantly, understanding on cultural and creative industries, cultural heritage and museology was helpful. Also, the ‘curation parts’ in many of our courses helped me understand the organisation of exhibitions and the intention of museums.

The internship did not affect me on my future career plans. However, it did change the way I view the cultural field. As I have mentioned before, I found a wider spectrum and possibilities for arts and culture. We never know when the coronavirus will end. Following the fast-changing trends will be one of the main difficulties for future arts and culture studies. To be able to catch up with these trends, museums and galleries would have to be more flexible and agile. I see myself playing a role in these developments.

Most of my classmates were looking for internships that are of their interests. However, many of the students, even I, were caught up in conventional ideas that they have to work in museums, auction houses, or big companies in fashion industries. Of course, it would be great if you can do so, but being in one part of a big company is different than taking part and encompassing the whole project and every little part of it. Also, since the industry is changing rapidly, I would recommend you to find a unique and creative company that can help you prepare for the future.