Arko Art Center was established in 1979 as a public exhibition space under the direction of Arts Council Korea. It has worked to fulfill its function as an exhibition-supporting institution, specifically geared towards emerging experimental artists. Through this, Arko Art Center has consolidated its public, as well as educational, role to construct a new paradigm for contemporary Korean art.
In the early 1980s, when only a few art museums existed in Korea, Arko Art Center lent its space to various artists and art groups to provide them with more exhibition opportunities. During the late 1980s, as many public and private art museums were opening, Arko Art Center gradually became focused on curating temporary exhibitions. From the 1990s, Arko Art Center reinforced its professional role as a public art institution and started taking an initiating role in changing the paradigm of contemporary Korean art.
In addition to gallery space, Arko Art Center runs INSA Art Space, an alternative space aimed specifically at promoting emerging artists, maintaining archives, offering seminar rooms, and providing project space. By doing so, Arko Art Center provides an arena in which diverse discourses form, and animated communication takes place.