Exhibition: Korea – 100 Years of Collecting at the Met

Met Museum - Korea - 100 Years of Collecting at the Met

Exhibition dates: 7 February 2015 – 27 March 2016

When the Department of Far Eastern Art was established at the Metropolitan Museum in the summer of 1915, the museum possessed only sixty-five Korean works. Some were mistakenly catalogued as Chinese or Japanese. Dubbed the ‘hermit kingdom’, Korea was then little known to the Western world. Today, its traditional arts, as well as pop music, film and drama, are celebrated markers of global culture. The museum’s collection of Korean art, too, has been significantly transformed and continues to evolve. It now encompasses ceramics, paintings, sculpture, metalwork, lacquerware and textiles from the late Bronze Age to the present.

Works on view include important recent gifts to the museum from the Mary Griggs Burke Collection and Florence and Irving Collection – including a rare sixteenth-century Buddhist painting of royal commission, a striking mid-seventeenth-century gilt-wood statue of a Bodhisattva, and exquisite mother-of-pearl inlaid lacquer boxes from the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910). The stories behind the objects in this exhibition capture the individuals and trends that shaped the Met’s distinctive collection, sometimes deliberately, sometimes accidentally. This presentation also reveals the modern Western imagination of Korea, and the many ways Korean art came to be viewed and appreciated in America.

For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.

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