Understanding each other’s culture and history

By Lee Woo-young
  • Published : May 5, 2013 - 20:04
  • Updated : May 5, 2013 - 20:04
“Peonies,” 19th century (National Museum of Korea)
Exchange art exhibitions between Korea and the U.S. are helping people of each country to better understand the other’s culture and history.

American masterpieces have been on show in Korea since February at an ongoing exhibition at the National Museum of Korea.

From paintings to furniture and Native American craftwork, 168 pieces spanning different phases of American art and history from Columbus’ landing to today’s America offer a glimpse of American life to the Korean audience.

According to the museum, the exhibition “Art Across America” has drawn more than 74,000 visitors since its opening through the end of April. It closes on May 19 at the National Museum of Korea and then runs from June 18 to Sept. 1 at the Daejeon Museum of Art.

“It’s a popular exhibition. It’s the first time these American artworks are being introduced here, and paintings also show the American history,” said a museum official.

In a reciprocal event to the exhibition, artworks from Korea’s Joseon period will tour in the U.S. next year.

The exhibition that will be titled “The Art of the Joseon Dynasty: Treasures from the National Museum of Korea” will present comprehensive examples of Korean art produced during the 500 years of Joseon (1392-1910) culled from the prestigious collections of the museum. 
Jar with dragon detail, 18th-19th century (National Museum of Korea)

The exhibition will be a survey of the lives of the people, including the royal family, aristocrats and commoners, shown through a wide range of artifacts from paintings, calligraphy, books, maps and ceramics to metalwork, sculptures, furniture and costumes, categorized in five themes.

“The exhibition will focus on distinctive cultures of people of different classes and unique ceremonies and rites developed. It will be a comprehensive survey of the life of Joseon from the beginning of the dynasty to its modernization until the Daehan Empire,” said Kim Wool-lim, curator of the exhibition division of the National Museum of Korea.

In advance of next year’s exhibition, two exhibitions, each introducing a different period of Korean art, are slated to be held in San Francisco and New York in October.

Organized by the National Museum of Korea, the National Palace Museum of Korea and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the first exhibition will show artifacts of Joseon used by royalty.

The exhibition will present about 100 artifacts including furniture, clothes, paintings and craftworks of royal families that will go on display at the special exhibition hall of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco from Oct. 25-Jan. 12.

Highlights of the exhibition include portraits of King Gojong of Joseon and Uigwe, texts, and a hand-drawn illustration of royal rites.

“Through the paintings and artifacts of the Joseon royal family, we aim to show the royal culture of Joseon, which has characteristics distinctive from those of China and Japan,” said an official of the museum.

The second exhibition, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, will introduce the dazzling culture of the Silla period (B.C. 57-A.D. 935).

By Lee Woo-young  (