Written by HyunCheon Kim / Translated by SeungYoun Woo
The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) finally re-opens the Arts of Korea Gallery after 2 years of renovation on Friday, November 16.
Since 1982, the artworks in the Arts of Korea Gallery are replaced with new collections for the first time in 30 years. There will be a wide range of artworks from the Bronze Age to modern times.
Despite its quite small area (1,200 sq. ft.), the gallery exhibits variety and excellent artworks, including sanggam inlaid celadons, ceramics, lacquer boxes, and folding screens. Also, it will provide a video clip to introduce sanggam inlay technique.
Ten pieces of rare Buddhist paintings are also displayed. They will remain in the Asia Painting Gallery, next to the Arts of Korea Gallery, until January 2013, with another Buddhist painting from a Korean modern artist, Ik-joong Kang.
Jane Portal, the director of Oceanian and Asian galleries, has been planning and making progress to renovate the Arts of Korea Gallery since 4 years ago. “I’m very excited to reveal new Korean artworks. Korean arts are amazing and very distinctive,” she said.
Arts of Korea Gallery at the MFA
The new Arts of Korea Gallery is located right next to the Arts of Japan Gallery. Most of the exhibitions are ceramics from Goryeo and Joseon dynasties but there will be some bronze tools found in a tomb, a sword and stone tools from the Stone Age, and an arrowhead from the Iron Age as well. Also, silver and gold accessories and armor from Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla will be displayed.
The relics from the Goryeo dynasty are mostly celadons made by sanggam inlay technique. One example is Maebyeong (Plum blossom vase). According to Jane Portal, Maebyeong, decorated with beautiful plum blossoms, seems to be used as a wine bottle but later used as a flower vase.
Another unique example from Goryeo dynasty, 12th century, is an ewer inlaid with 24 bundled bamboo stalks. The shape of handle and spout of this gilt silver ewer resembles bamboo shoots and the lid is the shape of lotus flower. The top of the lid, which is decorated with a phoenix, is spectacular.
One important work is a lacquered wood box inlaid with mother-of-pearl. This relic is from 13th century of Goryeo dynasty and there are only 8 pieces of this in the world. Portal said, “Each British Museum and Amsterdam Museum has one and finally MFA gets to display one. The rest of them are in Japan.”
Also, different kinds of ceramics from Joseon dynasty are exhibited, such as Buncheong (grayish green powdered), Moon Jar, and Phoenix designed Jar.
According to the MFA, the highlight of the new Arts of Korea Gallery is the Bookshelf screen, called Chaekgeori (books and things). It is an eight-panel silk screen, drawn with trompe I’oeil (three dimensional) technique. It was borrowed from a private owner around the city and the screen indicates the figure of a scholar from 18th century of Joseon dynasty. “It seems to be the Chaekgeori of one of the kings from Joseon dynasty,” said Portal.
According to Jane Portal, Chals Bain Hoyt, a collector from Paris, donated most of the celadons in the Korea Gallery of the MFA in 1950. He acquired the artworks when they were brought in from Korea to France during World War I.
Variety and Profusion of events are held in celebration of the re-opening of Art of Korea Gallery.
To celebrate the new opening of Arts of Korea Gallery, the MFA is hosting “Korea Foundation Day”, in cooperation with the Korean Foundation, on November 16. Different kinds of events are programmed from 3 to 9:45 pm.
From 3 to 9 pm, visitors can learn and draw Buddhist painting technique from an artist, and from 5:30 to 8:30 pm, they can watch demonstrations of paper dying, color mixing. and drawing a traditional Korean painting.
Also, from 6:30 to 8:3 pm, visitors can tour the Arts of Korea Gallery with explanations from an expert.
Moreover, Gong Myoung will hold a musical performance from 6 to 9 pm. They are a famous Korean ensemble, well known for performing a mix of Korean traditional music with Western percussions and wind instruments.
Also there will be a conversation time with a famous Korean modern artist, Ik-Joong Kang.
During the day, the cafeteria of MFA will provide some Korean foods.
The Korea Foundation will have an opening ceremony on November 15, the day before the official opening of the Korea Gallery, inviting their cooperating parties.
For more information about the MFA’s Arts of Korea Gallery, you can visit
ⓒ 보스톤코리아(http://www.bostonkorea.com), 무단전재 및 재배포 금지