Gallery Openings and Events

The Korean Cultural Center Presents Rediscovering Korea’s Past at Freer Gallery of Art

View of Korean gallery. All images are credit and copyright to Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

Virtual Tour of Korean Gallery at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, Spotlights Exquisite Ceramics

Korean Cultural Center Washington, D.C. YouTube and IGTV (@Koreaculturedc)
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery YouTube and IGTV (@freersackler)

The Korean Cultural Center Washington, D.C. (KCCDC) proudly announces the third installment of Korean Art in the U.S., presenting an expert-led virtual tour of Rediscovering Korea’s Past, now on view at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art in Washington, D.C. This major exhibition in the museum’s Korean Gallery explores world-class traditional celadon ceramics from nearly a millennium ago that have become icons of Korean culture today.

Guided by Sunwoo Hwang, Korean Program Associate at the Freer and Sackler, this first virtual tour of 2021 highlights exquisite works from the museum’s current exhibition, which focuses on celadon wares of the Goryeo dynasty (918–1392). Many of the items were collected by the founder of the Freer Gallery of Art, Charles Lang Freer (1854–1919), around the turn of the twentieth century when there was a growing interest in Korean art on the Peninsula as well as in Japan, Europe, and America. Korean celadon from this period is distinguished by innovative techniques and a degree of artistry that was outstanding at the time.

When its doors opened in 1923, the Freer Gallery’s holdings of Korean art were unparalleled in quality and historical scope. Tea bowls of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1897) are what first attracted Charles Lang Freer to Korean art. He later expanded his collection to include Goryeo dynasty celadon and rare examples of exquisite Buddhist paintings. Today, the 773 Korean objects in the gallery’s Korean collection include almost 300 ceramics spanning Korean history throughout the Three Kingdoms, Unified Silla, Goryeo, and Joseon periods.

As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, the museum is temporarily closed to visitors.

During a time of limited travel and in-person programs, Korean Art in the U.S. offers a new level of access to the richness and diversity of Korean traditional and contemporary art in American museums, through guided virtual tours of major exhibitions and rarely seen collections not currently on display.

This virtual tour of Rediscovering Korea’s Past will release for public viewing on Friday, February 26 at 6:00 p.m. on the KCCDC YouTube channel (@Koreaculturedc) and IGTV (@Koreaculturedc) and the Freer and Sackler YouTube channel (@freersackler) and IGTV (@freersackler).

About the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, which together form the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, are located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Committed to preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting exemplary works of art, the Freer and Sackler house exceptional collections of Asian art, with more than 44,000 objects dating from the Neolithic period to today. Renowned and iconic objects originate from China, Japan, Korea, South and Southeast Asia, the ancient Near East, and the Islamic world. The Freer Gallery also holds a significant group of American works of art largely dating to the late nineteenth century. It boasts the world’s largest collection of diverse works by James McNeill Whistler, including the famed Peacock Room.

About Rediscovering Korea’s Past

Rediscovering Korea’s Past highlights celadon ware of the Goryeo dynasty (918–1392) collected by the founder of the Freer Gallery of Art, Charles Lang Freer (1854–1919). Goryeo celadon, which is one of the great achievements of potters worldwide, was once largely forgotten as tastes changed in Korea around 600 years ago. The revived interest in Goryeo celadon occurred in the late nineteenth century when long-respected tombs of royal figures and the nobility from the Goryeo period became vulnerable to unsanctioned excavation. Celadon and other cherished possessions of the deceased, preserved as burial offerings, were removed and sold on the antiquities market. American doctor and diplomat Horace Newton Allen witnessed this rediscovery while he lived in Seoul from 1884 to 1905, and he formed his own sizeable collection of celadon from objects on the open market in Korea. Charles Lang Freer purchased Allen’s collection in 1907. This large acquisition sparked Freer’s deep interest in this distinguished Korean ware.

About Sunwoo Hwang, Korean Program Associate

Sunwoo Hwang joined the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in 2018 as a Korean Program Associate and is primarily responsible for assisting in organizing Korean programs, including exhibitions, public programs, and events. She earned an MA in humanities at the University of Chicago and is currently a PhD candidate at Dongguk University in South Korea specializing in Chinese Buddhist temple murals.