Art aficionado BTS' RM: 4 galleries visited by him

The curator side of BTS
The curator side of BTS' RM (Image via BTS' RM's photo-folio Entirety)

BTS' RM is passionate about art and aesthetics, which is evident in his poetic lyrics. It is a well-known fact that he is a huge bibliophile and has a small library in his house. Many bookshops have a dedicated section for his recommendations, and fellow bibliophiles love the bodies of work he reads.

What might not be as known is that BTS' RM frequents various art galleries, and has gone on numerous trips across the world to appreciate and collect art pieces. According to his fellow members, his house and studio are akin to an art gallery and accomodate various artworks that the BTS leader has collected over the years.

The art galleries that BTS' RM visits have become a hot-site and see immense traffic because of him and the pictures he uploads of his visits on his Instagram account. Yang Jeong-mu, a Western Art History Professor at the Korean National University of the Arts, stated that South Korean exhibitions are divided into two factions: visited by RM and not visited by RM (yet).

The BTS leader has not only visited museums but has also made monetary donations for the preservation of art. He has even donated pieces from his personal collection so that museum-goers can relish the beauty he is privy to every day. He donated a sculpture by artist Kwon Jin-kyu to the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) for their exhibition, which became SeMA’s most-attended exhibition till date.

To celebrate his 28th birthday, let us take a look at the 4 museums that BTS' RM has often visited and spoken about.

Art of Namjooning: 4 galleries that BTS' RM has graced with his presence

1) Art Basel

Art Basel, located in Basel, Switzerland, is a meeting place for artists, art collectors, and people who enjoy the art scene. It stages huge art exhibitions annually in various parts of the world for art lovers to visit and enjoy.

In 2022, BTS' RM decided to stop by the Art Basel festival to check out their vibrant fair. In his vlog, released on June 30 on BTS’ channel BANGTANTV on YouTube, one could see him admire the works of artists such as Yun Hyong-keun, Alexander Calder, and more.

Art Basel also invited RM to the first episode of the second season of their podcast titled Intersections. The podcast is available on Spotify, where RM spoke about his passion and love for art and how he wishes to open a small art gallery to display his personal collection and run a cafe as well.

2) Metropolitan Museum of Art

BTS' RM has been a frequent visitor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, popularly known as the MET. BTS was set to play at the METLife Stadium in 2019, but he managed to visit the art museum despite his jam-packed schedule. He even posted pictures of himself at the MET on BTS' Twitter account.

In the picture, he can be seen looking at the work of Claude Monet, who is also the artist who inspired his art journey. In the Art Basel podcast, he mentioned that Claude Monet’s painting, titled The Lunch, was the first painting he fell in love with.

BTS' RM is very well appreciated in the art network and has even spoken at the MET in 2021 at the insistence of the gallery. BTS was selected as the Special Presidential Envoy and accompanied President Moon and his wife to New York for official business.

The South Korean government presented the MET gallery with five lacquerware vessels by Chung Haecho. It was revealed on Kim Ou-joon’s show, Dasvweda, that the donation and MET visit were only possible because Presidential Secretary Tak Hyun-min played the BTS card.

Initially, the gallery asked them to wait their turn for the donation; however, when they heard that BTS would be traveling with the South Korean President and his wife, they opened up a special visit for them, not wanting to miss out on the opportunity. After hearing BTS' name, they even booked their private Roof Garden for an elaborate welcome. This goes to show BTS and RM's influence in the art world.

3) The National Gallery

The BTS leader managed to find time in his busy schedule to visit the most famous gallery in London, The National Gallery, while BTS were on their Love Yourself Speak Yourself stadium world tour.

BTS' RM stated in his Vogue magazine interview that he started visiting art galleries and museums on tour because he was bored. However, his frequent museum visits got him interested in art, especially Korean artists.

BTS' own art project called Connect BTS started in London as well. The project was the band's way of making art more accessible and available to the youth. A lot of people view art as elitist, but RM wanted to dispel that idea, which is why BTS funded such a grand exhibition around the world.

4) National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

BTS' RM is a frequent visitor to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), located in four places in South Korea: Gwacheon, Deoksugung, Seoul, and Cheongju. In 2019, he went to MMCA for their 50th anniversary exhibition, which showcased Lee Ungno’s work titled The Bamboo.

In 2021 he went to see an exhibition of Lee Kun-hee’s collection titled Masterpieces of Korean Art that displayed the works of some of his favorite artists: Kim Whanki, Lee Jung-seob, and Yoo Young-kuk.

For his 26th birthday, BTS’ RM made a generous donation of 100 million won to the MMCA in 2020. Such a charitable act not only helped the museum fund the publishing of more art books, especially those that have been out of print, but also brought attention to the world of art and the MMCA from people who follow the idol. These books are also to be transported to different parts of South Korea so that art becomes more accessible to those who cannot frequent museums.

RM recently recorded an audio guide in English and Korean for 10 pieces to be displayed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This is done in collaboration with the MMCA for the museum's upcoming The Space Between: The Modern in Korean Art exhibition.

BTS' RM is a connoisseur of art who gets invitations from museums and art galleries worldwide to visit their exhibitions. He helps various artists get mainstream recognition by working as a bridge between the art population and the rest of the world. His constant appreciation of art in his interviews and on his social media accounts helps in bringing more attention and interest to the world of art that usually seems closed-off.

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Edited by Priya Majumdar