Hyundai Card Music Library, which opened in 2015 in Itaewon, Seoul, extends Hyundai Card’s library series to the realm of music. The collection offers nearly 15,000 items on music, of which more than two-thirds are vinyl records. Twelve-inch long play, 10-inch extended play and 7-inch single records are all included in the collection.
Hyundai Card holders — who can bring up to two guests on their visits — can freely use the library to enjoy music at dedicated turntables, read rare and recent magazines on music, and attend top-class performances by talented artists.
An Open Space
One of Music Library’s most striking features is its external architecture, which contains a large void that looks out onto the landscape of the city. The void concept was conceived by renowned architect Choi Moon-kyu. Choi left half of the library’s ground floor as an empty space, giving the city a breath of fresh air in a bustling neighborhood crowded wall-to-wall with buildings.
The art work that wraps two walls of the outdoor void space of Music Library changes every five years. When the Music Library opened in 2015, the work of urban artist JR, who utilized the 1969 Bill Owen photo “Naked Man at Altamont” in his design, wrapped the two walls of the library’s outdoor pace. The photo was taken at the Rolling Stones’ Altamont free concert in the United States, bringing back the romantic and free days of the time to the space.
In December 2020, the library featured an artwork by Los Angeles-based artist Alex Prager. Prager’s art piece mixing real and fabricated images allows visitors to view the square in front of the library from a fresh perspective. The surrounding lightings around the building maximizes the dramatic effect of the artwork wrapping the walls, bringing out the true essence of art in the evening.
Exploring Music Through Vinyl and Print
The first floor of the library consists of a café and waiting area. The second and third floors house a collection of more than 10,000 records, including 400 of the rarest albums in the world. Selected 26 records are permanent displays at the library and the monthly exhibition of thematically curated albums. “Rare Collection” is displayed at the entrance to introduce visitors to different genres, as well as to induce them to past favorites in vinyl. In the library’s collection, albums are organized by decades from the 1950s to today and by genres: jazz, rock, soul, hip hop, Korean, and world music. Curation was carried out by leading DJs in the field, including DJ Soulscape, Scott Mou, and Hajime Oishi. Visitors can select up to three albums at once and take them to play at one of the library’s nine listening stations.
Visitors can also delve into a collection of nearly 4,000 books and periodicals including the complete collection of Rolling Stone magazine dating from its first issue in 1967 to today. Other printed material includes songbooks and non-fiction on the history and philosophy of music.
Concerts at Understage
Located on the B2 floor of the building, Understage is a high-end concert hall that can hold up to 500 standing guests. It was conceived as a communication platform for Hyundai Card to share its cultural vision with guests via music-related events hosted or arranged by in-house curators. Understage’s curators currently include veteran pop composer Yoo Hee-yeol, actor Kim Suro, singer-songwriter Yoon Jong-Shin, rock band frontman Chang Kiha, DJ Soulscape and more.
The backdrop of the stage is embellished with a sculpted relief by Portuguese artist Vhils, who carved into the wall itself to portray the face of a free-spirited musician. Vhils also contributed a second artwork on the library’s top floor, where dozens of speakers painted in white are attached to the upper walls.
Supporting Fledgling Artists
Vhils’ Understage mural stretches up to B1 floor, where three soundproof producing/recording studios are installed inside of indoor shipping containers. The studios and the waiting room are open to artists, most of whom are underground musicians, to practice, record tracks, and produce their demo albums.
Four Principles for Selecting Good Music
1. Inspiring Music that stimulates and provokes
2. Vitalizing Music that vitalizes daily lives
3. Pivotal Music that has influenced the field
4. Timeless Do not leave out any timeless classics in music